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The History ol 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 

Modern Bulgarian Literature 

The History of 







Copyright © 1960 by Bookman Associates 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8549 





This outline of modern Bulgarian literature is the result of 
an exchange of memories of Bulgaria between the authors some 
years ago in New York. 

We both have visited Bulgaria many times, we have had many 
personal friends among its scholars and statesmen, and we feel a 
deep sympathy for the tragic plight of this long-suffering Slavic 
nation with its industrious and hard-working people. 

We both feel also that it is an injustice to Bulgaria and a loss 
to American Slavic scholarship that, in spite of the importance 
of Bulgaria for the Slavic world, so little attention is paid to 
the country's cultural contributions. This is the more deplorable 
for American influence in Bulgaria was great, even before 
World War I. Many Bulgarians were educated in Robert Col- 
lege in Constantinople and after World War I in the American 
College in Sofia, one of the institutions supported by the Near 
East Foundation. Many Bulgarian professors have visited the 
United States in happier times. So it seems unfair that Ameri- 
cans and American universities have ignored so completely the 
development of the Bulgarian genius and culture during the 
past century. 

Even American Slavic scholars know little or nothing of 
modern Bulgarian literature. There have been a few transla- 
tions of the works of two of the greatest authors, Khristo Botev 
and Ivan Vazov, but these are now out of print. The other 
nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors are not even known 
by name in the United States. In short, any attempts to interpret 
Bulgarian literary culture have been either non-existent or so 
feeble that they have scarcely achieved their purpose of making 
the country known in the Anglo-Saxon world. 

Yet modern Bulgarian literature, from its scanty origins in the 
eighteenth century, has developed an individuality which dif- 

ferentiates it from the culture of the other Slavic nations and 
corresponds to the Bulgarian national character and to the 
unfortunate fate of the Bulgarian nation. The nation was 
forced to enter two World Wars on the losing side and, now 
under the terror of the Communists, it is under a government 
that is intent upon changing the entire traditional culture of 
the people and upon remodelling its customs and literature 
according to the Soviet pattern. 

It is our modest aim to help fill this vacuum in America 
with this study of modern Bulgarian literature, presented 
against the background of Bulgarian history, which offers a 
good example of the evolution of modern Slavic nationalism. 
We sincerely hope that this volume will lead to a better un- 
derstanding of the path which the Bulgarians have been com- 
pelled to travel. We believe that it will give a better under- 
standing to the people and encourage efforts to set the Bulgarian 
people free from their present yoke to resume their march 
toward membership in a free world and a world of peace, 
harmony, freedom, and democracy for all nations. 

At the present moment literary research in both Bulgaria and 
the Soviet Union is stressing the interrelations of Bulgarian and 
Ukrainian literature. These relationships have been almost 
completely disregarded by American scholars and so they have 
been more or less noted in this volume. As the Ukrainian 
authors are little known to Americans, footnotes have been 
appended for purposes of identification. 

In the last chapter we have added selections of Bulgarian 
poetry, for poetry is one of the most characteristic features of 
any literature. 

The transliteration system used in this book is based upon 
that of the Library of Congress with some necessary modifica- 

To differentiate the ancient state of Kievan Rus from the 
rising Principality of Moscow, we have used for the former the 
term found in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval 
English word, "Ruce." 

In conclusion we can only hope that in some degree this book 

will serve its purpose of making known to the American peo- 
ple a Slavic country which has had a remarkable and unfortunate 
history but which is still far from conquered and will ultimately 
play its own free role in the free world. 

New York, New York 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
October, 1958 

Clarence A. Manning 
Roman Smal-Stocki 





The Historical Background 



Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 



Father Paisi Khilandarski 



Educators and Revolutionists 



Khristo Botev 



Ivan Vazov 



The First Decades after Liberation 



The Coming of Modernism 



Bulgarian Prose and Drama 



The Period of Discouragement 



Toward Communism 



The Communist Period 



The Characteristics of Bulgarian Literature 


Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 


Bulgarian Folksongs 


Petko Rachev Slaveykov 


Khristo Botev 


Ivan Vazov 


Pencho Slaveykov 


Peyu Yavorov 




Selected Bibliography 





The Historical Background 

To understand the special situation in which modern Bul- 
garian literature developed, we must have at least a general 
idea of the history of the Bulgarian people in the past as well 
as in the present. We must take into account the geographical 
position of the land which likewise played an important role 
in the fate of the nation. 

The Bulgarian people, numbering almost 7,000,000, live in 
the eastern half of the Balkan peninsula and occupy much of 
the area in which the original Bulgarians first settled. Their 
territory is bounded on the east by the Black Sea and the 
European section of Turkey. In the south Greek Thrace, a 
narrow strip of territory which was once under Bulgarian rule, 
cuts them off from the Aegean Sea. In the west their territory 
abuts on Yugoslavia. The northern boundary of the state is 
the Danube River which separates them from Romania and 
near its delta creates the thorny Dobrudja question. The ter- 
ritory is cut almost in half by the Balkan Mountains with the 
fertile lands to the north sloping down to the Danube and 
those of the south toward the Greek border. 

The territory which the Bulgarians now inhabit was formerly 
a part of the Roman Empire and the course of the old Roman 
roads can still be traced, especially those running from the 
west to the east. With the division of the Roman Empire in 
the year 395, the present Bulgarian lands fell within the terri- 
tory of the Eastern Empire with its political and ecclesiastical 
capital at Constantinople or, as the Greeks liked to call it, "New 
Rome." This territory was then largely inhabited by Greeks, 
although it undoubtedly contained remnants of the pre-Greek 


12 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Thracians and Illyrians. These latter peoples, of whom we 
have little detailed knowledge, flowed over into Macedonia, 
originally the homeland of Philip and Alexander the Great. 

In the course of the sixth century this area was invaded by 
various East Slavic tribes, partly the ancestors of the present-day 
Belo-Ruthenians and Ukrainians, who overran the Balkan Penin- 
sula and even settled in the Peloponnesus. 1 At that time the 
entire territory from Mount Haemus to the Peloponnesus and 
the Aegean Sea was called Slavania or Slavonia. 2 How far 
these Slavs accepted Christianity is still uncertain but there was 
apparently little conflict at this period between the old inhabi- 
tants and the invaders. They were well on their way to being 
acclimated in the Byzantine Empire when the Bulgarian horde 3 
made its appearance. 

This was a group of Altaic-speaking nomads, and their lan- 
guage was probably a mixture of Turkic dialects with some 
possible influences of the old Hunnic speech, something like 
modern Chuvash. They formed the nucleus of a state on the 
Volga in Black Bulgary where their leaders showed remarkable 
statesmanship. In the course of the seventh century, during the 
folk migrations, they moved westward across the Ukraine and 
into the present Romania. Finally, in 679, under Khan Asperukh, 
they crossed the Danube into the old province of Moesia. Fol- 
lowing wars with the Byzantines, they secured permission of 
the Byzantine Emperor to establish a Bulgarian state with its 
first capital at Pliska-Aboba in the northeastern part of modern 
Bulgaria. Since this was about the time when Constantinople 
was threatened by the first great assault of the Arabs, some 
scholars have thought that the Bulgarian horde had some un- 
derstanding with the other foes of Byzantium. 

For the next two centuries Bulgaria prospered. The Slavic 
cultivators, a sturdy and hard-working stock, soon Slavicized the 
Bulgarian nomads who formed a comparatively small dominant 
class. Giving up its nomadic habits, the horde merged with 
the surrounding Slavs and by intermarriage created a unified 
Slavic nation under the old Altaic name. By the beginning 
of the ninth century, even the original Bulgarian Altaic lan- 
guage had disappeared and had been replaced by a form of 

The Historical Background 13 

Slavic. The process was similar to that which went on when 
the Franks, the Teutonic conquerors of Gaul, were completely 
assimilated by the native population but left the country and 
nation their name— France. In Bulgaria, too, the conquerors, 
the Altaic Bulgars, gave their name to the more civilized 
Slavic tribes whose customs and language they adopted. During 
these centuries the state expanded to the south and west and 
included the area around Lake Okhrida in the western part 
of the Balkans. Next to the Byzantine Empire, it was the strong- 
est state in south central Europe and its borders nearly touched 
those of another Slavic country, the still inchoate Great Mora- 
vian Empire (836-907) which the Slovaks claim as their mother- 

The history of the new Slavic state of Bulgaria was greatly 
influenced by its geopolitical situation: (1) It was located on 
the largest and longest European river and its delta, the Danube, 
which from the earliest times had been a highroad for com- 
mercial and military movements between the west and the 
east, between Europe, the Dardanelles and Asia. Along this 
route Bulgaria dominated the Balkan Mountains and so it 
controlled passage from Constantinople to central Europe by 
land. (2) The most sensitive spot on this Danube-Black Sea 
route to Asia was the Dardanelles which connected the eastern 
Mediterranean basin with the Black Sea and thus formed a 
north-south route which was extended by the Dnieper waterway 
deep into eastern Europe and furnished a convenient access 
to the Baltic Sea and northern Europe. Thus Constantinople 
and the Dardanelles, at the junction of these two routes, were 
in a position of world importance in politics and commerce 
and affected the history of three continents, Europe, Asia and 
Africa. It is therefore no accident that this region was the scene 
of the Trojan War which inspired the first great work of world 
literature, Homer's Iliad. (3) Bulgaria, with its borders on the 
Black Sea, was a part of the entire Black Sea complex, which 
was the meeting point of different cultures, races and religious 
movements from Iranian, Caucasian and Asiatic sources, as 
well as a part of the old classical world. The Greeks had com- 
menced to colonize the Black Sea coasts in 700 B.C., made of 

14 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

them a Greek province and implanted their cultural supremacy 
for the next millenium. Moreover, through the northern part 
of this Black Sea complex ran the great continental highway 
from Asia into Europe through the "Gate of Peoples" between 
the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains. Over this route had 
passed the invasions of the Huns, the Avars, the Tatars, the 
Hungarians, and the smaller invasion of the Bulgarians which 
resulted in the formation of Bulgaria. This route crossed the 
extension of the north-south route at Kiev in Ukraine and so 
the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria was included in nearly all the 
movements that emanated from Constantinople or affected it 
from the East and West. 

There were few periods of friendly relations between Con- 
stantinople and the Bulgarians and every step in the growth 
of Bulgaria was marked by bitter struggle. Thus in 811 Khan 
Krum, who had moved his capital to Preslav (the Roman 
Marcianopolis) a few miles from Pliska-Aboba, succeeded in 
defeating and killing the Emperor Nicephorus. Following the 
old Asiatic custom of the original Bulgars, he used the Em- 
peror's skull as a drinking cup to celebrate his victory. 

Paganism still continued, especially among the ruling class 
of the khanate, but in the middle of the ninth century Khan 
Boris (852-889) apparently saw the advantages of regularizing 
his position and gaining Christian support by adopting Chris- 
tianity as the religion of his state and he used King Louis the 
German as a mediator with Rome. He sought ecclesiastical 
autonomy from Rome as well as from Constantinople and he 
wanted his own Bulgarian hierarch. Under pressure from Em- 
peror Michael III, he ultimately turned to Constantinople and 
accepted Christianity but he had to accept a Greek archbishop 
and somewhat less autonomy than he had desired. Bulgaria then 
became the object of a protracted struggle between Rome and 
Constantinople as both sought jurisdiction over the Bulgarian 
Church. 4 

At almost the same time Prince Rostislav (846-870) of the 
Great Moravian state felt himself menaced by the advance of 
German Christianity and appealed in 863 to Constantinople 
for Slavic-speaking missionaries. The Patriarch Photius sent two, 

The Historical Background 15 

Constantine the Philosopher and his brother, the monk Metho- 
dius, to preach Slavic Christianity in Moravia. These two broth- 
ers, the founders of the Slavic Liturgy, were already distinguished 
men. They had spoken the Slavic of the Bulgarian hinterland 
of Salonika from childhood and had untertaken various diplo- 
matic missions in the East for the Emperor and the Church. 
Now in preparation for their new mission, Constantine, the 
more intellectual of the two brothers, with a fine general phil- 
osophical and theological background, drew up an alphabet 
for the Slavic language and prepared a Slavic translation of 
the Liturgy and other church books. The Byzantine Emperor, 
Michael III, in sending the two brothers to Rostislav, was fully 
aware of the historical importance of this new Bulgarian alpha- 
bet and the Slavic books for divine service, and evaluated them 
as follows in his letter to Rostislav: "Receive this gift, greater 
and more valuable than all gold and silver, precious stones, and 
transitory riches." 5 The mission of the brothers prospered but 
as they were bitterly denounced by the German missionaries, 
they decided that it would be better to seek the approval of 
the Pope for the Slavic Liturgy. They went to Rome in the 
year 867 and secured the approval of the Slavic Liturgy by Pope 
Hadrian II. In 869 Constantine died in Rome after becoming 
a monk under the name of Cyril. He was buried in Rome in 
the Church of St. Clement. Hence the brothers, later canonized, 
are usually referred to as Saints Cyril and Methodius. 6 The 
Moravian mission spread also in Bohemia. One centre was 
the Sazava Monastery which was liquidated in 1097. It reached 
Poland where the first Metropolitan See was of the Slavic Rite 
(located, after 922, probably in Sandomierz). 7 Methodius and 
his successors are also credited with the beginnings of Chris- 
tianity in Ukrainian Volynia 8 and in the whole of Ruce-Ukraine. 9 
Finally after many persecutions at the hands of the Germans, 
St. Methodius died in 885 and his disciples were forced to leave 
Moravia. Some went into Western Ruce-Ukraine and some 
returned to Bulgaria where St. Clement settled at Okhrida in 
the west and St. Naum at Preslav in the east with the support 
of the already Christian Boris. Thus Bulgaria became the cen- 
tre for the Liturgy celebrated in that Slavic language which 

16 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

they had worked out as the liturgical and literary language for 
all the Slavs. Bulgaria became in the next decades the center 
of culture, learning and education for all the Southern and 
Eastern Slav nations and their churches. Since the Slav lan- 
guages were still not so far differentiated as they are today, 
this Bulgarian church language was easily understood and ac- 
cepted as a kind of a "high style" in all the Slavic vernaculars. 

Under Boris and his son, Emperor Simeon (893-927), Bulgaria 
reached the height of its power. 10 The reign of Simeon was 
marked by extensive cultural development and both at Okhrida 
and Preslav there were flourishing schools of translators who 
made accessible to the new Slavic Christians in their own tongue 
many of the best works of Christian Greek thought. Bulgaria 
grew in power and the Bulgarian Emperors felt themselves po- 
tential rivals and challengers for the imperial throne of the 
East in Constantinople. As a matter of fact, the Byzantine Em- 
peror at one time even agreed to pay an annual tribute to 

Thus in Bulgaria on the Slavic ethnographic border with 
the Byzantine Greek Empire there was laid the foundation for 
a Bulgarian Slavic nationalism nurtured by the political and 
religious clashes between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire, 
its Greek national church and civilization. The Slavic Bulgarian 
Empire near Byzantium tried to consolidate the Slavs of the 
Balkans. The proclamation of the Slavic Bulgarian language 
as the official language of the Bulgarian Church and its dedi- 
cation to the Divine Service by the Bulgarian National Assembly 
(893) were of revolutionary importance and are regarded as 
a contribution of the Bulgarians to the whole of the Slavic 
world. The introduction of the Old Bulgarian language into 
the Church was a decisive victory over the partisans of the 
"three language monopoly," who held that only Hebrew, Greek 
and Latin were worthy of use in glorifying God. The Bulgarian 
Church from its very foundation identified itself with the Bul- 
garian national consciousness, which aspired to the leadership 
of the Slavic Christian world by creating a Slavic literature and 
culture to rival Greek and Latin. 

After Simeon's death, a succession of less able rulers lost their 

The Historical Background 17 

political advantage and the center of Bulgarian political life 
gravitated from Preslav to the west. Europe was at this time 
in the Viking Age and the Norman-Vikings along the west 
coast of Europe and in the east along the Dnieper drove toward 
Constantinople, which was the chief center of civilization in 
the medieval world after the capture of Rome by Alaric the 
Goth (410). The Viking dynasty of Ruce-Ukraine, especially 
during the reign of Svyatoslav (962-972), included Bulgaria in 
its imperial plans to control Transcaucasia and Constantinople 
after a number of previous direct assaults upon the imperial 
capital. Svyatoslav (965) stormed the city of Bulgar on the 
Volga, the capital of the Altaic-speaking Bulgarians (Bolgarians) 
who still remained in the East, and in 967 invaded Bulgaria with 
40,000 men. He established his capital at Pereyaslavets (Little 
Preslav), a fortress commanding the Danubian delta, and plan- 
ned to transfer his own capital to it from Kiev. He made an 
alliance with Byzantium which feared the growing power of 
Bulgaria but, in the face of Svyatoslav's expanding ambitions, 
the Bulgarians and their Byzantine rivals settled their differ- 
ences and combined against Svyatoslav. He was defeated in 972, 
gave up his claims on Bulgaria and met an untimely death on 
his way back to Ukraine. 11 Thus ended Svyatoslav's attempt 
to establish a huge Ruce-Slavic Empire with Bulgaria as a 
cornerstone. 12 

Tsar Samuel, who, according to tradition, was asked by the 
Kievan Grand Prince Volodymyr to send him priests and books, 
a request that was promptly granted, tried to revive Bulgarian 
power. He found himself opposed to one of the greater Byzan- 
tine Emperors, Basil the Macedonian, who in 1014 decisively 
defeated him and avenged the former imperial defeat of Nice- 
phorus by blinding 15,000 Bulgarian prisoners and winning 
the title of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer (Bulgaroktonos). This cruel 
vengance left deep traces on the attitude of the Christian Bul- 
garians toward the Christian Greeks. Samuel died from the 
blow, and within four years the once powerful Bulgarian Em- 
pire had ceased to exist. 

With the destruction of the Bulgarian state, the Bulgarian 
Church fell under the control of Greek ecclesiastics who took 

18 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

over the see of Okhrida and tried with some success to eliminate 
the Slavic Liturgy of SS. Cyril and Methodius and to replace 
it with the Liturgy in the Greek language. They could not 
hope to succeed, for the Slavic Liturgy had already been in- 
troduced, through Kievan Ruce-Ukraine, to the Eastern Slavs 
and also to Serbia and in part to Croatia, and it had been 
accepted as standard for the Slavic Christians of those lands. 
The first Eastern Slavic saints, SS. Boris and Hlib (Gleb), the 
murdered sons of Grand Prince Volodymyr, had a Bulgarian 
mother, according to the Book of Annals, and thus formed a 
link in the Church Slavic tradition. 

During the tenth and eleventh centuries, as the Bulgarian 
power was fading, part of the peasantry drifted over into 
Bogomilism, a strange mixture of Christian and Iranian dual- 
istic ideas. There is no doubt that Bogomilism was a powerful 
movement. It was definitely pacifistic, ascetic, and anti-ecclesi- 
astical and, in fact, it was a kind of Christian anarchism. It 
recognized no authority, spiritual or civil, and openly preached 
disobedience. Its adherents simply hated kings, had only con- 
tempt for the elders, attacked the rich boyars (the nobility) 
and incited the peasants to cease working for their masters and 
to seek the salvation of their souls by living as vegetarians and 
abstaining from all normal modes of life including marriage 
and family. Bogomilism had some connection with the long 
series of dualistic movements such as Manicheanism, Paulician- 
ism, and Massilianism that plagued the Christian world for 
centuries and produced a large number of apocryphal tales 
which found wide circulation throughout the Bulgarian sphere 
of influence. The movement spread westward through merchants 
and students and was reflected in the strange cults of the Al- 
bigenses or Bulgari (the French invective bougre is derived 
from Bugri-Bulgari) in southern France, the Cathari in Germany 
and England, and similar movements. Some scholars regard 
the Bogomils as forerunners of the Reformation in Central 
Europe and their efforts as a struggle of democracy against 
aristocracy and a fight for freedom against feudalism. 13 The 
Bogomil movement undermined the Bulgarian state and nation, 

The Historical Background 19 

and later the Bogomil anarchists refused to oppose the invad- 
ing Turks and thus betrayed their nation. 

In 1185 Ivan and Peter Asen of Tirnovo led a general revolt 
of the Bulgarians and the Vlachs against the Byzantine Empire 
and were able to establish a new state, the Second Bulgarian 
Empire, with its capital in Tirnovo. Like Boris, the new rulers, 
in their efforts to free themselves from the ecclesiastical control 
of Constantinople, appealed to the Pope, who formally confer- 
red the crown upon Kaloioannes, or Kaloyan (1197-1207), the 
third of the dynasty. However, it was not long before an Ortho- 
dox Patriarch, Ioakhim, proclaimed again the independence of 
the Bulgarian Church from Constantinople at Tirnovo, and 
the bulk of the population remained Slavic Orthodox. 

Under the Asen monarchs, the empire flourished and reached 
a high point of prosperity and culture, thanks to the successful 
diplomacy of the monarchs and their alliance with the Cumans 
north of the Danube. The Cumans were able to give the state 
considerable help during the stormy days when the Byzantine 
Empire fell under the control of Latin monarchs after the 
Fourth Crusade in 1204. The Asen monarchs continued to 
foster the idea of Slavic union and solidarity created by Simeon. 
To strengthen this union Emperor Michael Asen (1246-1257) 
married the daughter of Rostislav, the pretender to the throne 
of the Ukrainian Halych-Volynia. 14 The Asens made Tirnovo 
an important city with many palaces and churches, and gained 
for the city its prestige as a center of culture and tradition in 
Bulgaria, a position it has retained ever since. 

When the dynasty died out in 1257, their successors were 
feeble and the state soon became part of the Serbian Empire 
of Stefan Dushan (1330), but this did not survive the death 
of its founder and only paved the way for the Turkish conquest 
in the latter part of the fourteenth century. 

In 1371 the Turks defeated and killed Vukashin, one of the 
successors of Dushan, in a battle on the Maritsa River. This 
opened the way to the seizure by the Turks of Sofia and Plovdiv. 
Then the defeat of Knez (Prince) Lazar and the Serbs at Kosovo 
in 1389 destroyed the Christian resistance in the central part 

20 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

of the Balkan Peninsula. Two years later, in 1391, the Turks 
captured Tirnovo and killed the last Bulgarian emperor, Ivan 
Shishman. Although Bulgarian resistance continued, in 1396 
with the capture by the Turks of Vidin on the Danube, fighting 
ceased and Bulgarian independence was lost and was not re- 
gained for nearly five centuries. 

The occupation of Bulgaria by the Mohammedan Turks and 
its absorption into the Ottoman Empire brought great changes 
in the life of the Bulgarian people, especially after the fall of 
Constantinople (1453). During its long career the mighty By- 
zantine Empire had enjoyed its glorious moments but by its 
"cesaropapism" it had also created an unsurpassable record of 
corruption, cruelty, and cynicism. Of eighty emperors, ten were 
forced to abandon their thrones, four were imprisoned, seven 
blinded, and fifteen murdered. 

As the Empire shrank, it was no wonder that the early Bul- 
garian rulers regarded the Empire with its strategically important 
capital as the necessary goal of their own growing state. Yet 
the problem of whether Constantinople would remain Greek 
or become Slavic Bulgarian was finally decided by the Turks 
who made it the political center of Islam. The rivalry of the 
Greeks and Bulgarians brought it about that no Slavic Ortho- 
dox people played any role in the last struggle. The alliance 
of Catholic France (1528) with the Sultan-Caliph against the 
Catholic Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire showed the 
same disintegration of all Christian sense of solidarity in the 
Catholic camp. 

At the beginning of the occupation the Turkish administra- 
tion was long compelled to employ the Bulgarian Church lan- 
guage as an official medium and many documents of the Sultan 
sent to Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine and 
Moldavia were written in this language. Many Slavs who be- 
trayed their religion and jumped on the bandwagon of victorious 
Islam were employed by the Turks. Numbers of Slavs in Bul- 
garia and elsewhere deliberately adopted the new faith to pre- 
serve their personal estates and to secure the privileges granted 
by the Ottoman Empire to members of the ruling faith. Yet, 
on the whole the Turks preferred that their subjects should 

The Historical Background 21 

remain Christian, while they themselves kept superior military 
power. They made no consistent effort to amalgamate the 
Greeks, the Bulgarians or any other Orthodox people with 
themselves. The Turks preferred to leave the subject peoples 
to their own devices and to content themselves with the fruits 
of exploitation. This policy of the Turks produced curious 
and unexpected results after the fall of Constantinople. The 
last emperor of the Byzantine Empire, Constantine XI Paleo- 
logue, died courageously defending the walls of the city. His 
family escaped to the West and one of his nieces, Zoe, later 
married, under the Orthodox name of Sophia, the Grand Duke 
of Muscovy Ivan III. Ivan forthwith adopted the double-headed 
eagle of Byzantium and claimed by inheritance all the rights 
of the Emperors of Constantinople. 

The Greeks in the Empire from the time of Constantine 
and the founding of the imperial city had not called themselves 
Greeks or Hellenes but Romans or Romaioi and now in their 
decline they still continued to use this name for themselves. 
They were headed by the Patriarch of Constantinople who 
since the sixth century had taken the title of Oecumenical 
Patriarch (World Patriarch). Despite the blows of Islam and 
the loss of the venerable Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which 
the Turks turned into a mosque, the Patriarchate survived with 
its staff and its institutions for preserving the old Greek learning. 
It retreated into the interior quarter of the Phanar (phanar— 
lighthouse) on the upper part of the Golden Horn, adopting 
a policy of collaboration with the Sultan and attempting, 
despite all humiliations, to hold the same attitude toward the 
Sultan as toward the Christian emperors. The Greeks, better 
educated than the Turks, soon came to form a diplomatic elite 
in the Empire just as the Armenians came to form a financial 

To organize and govern their conquests, the Turks created 
an organization for all the Christians in the Empire, the Roura- 
millet (derived from Romaioi). They placed at its head the 
Patriarch of Constantinople and recognized him as the political 
head of all Orthodox Christians and gave him the right to 
impose taxes upon Christians for the support of the Patriarchate. 

22 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

The Turks themselves executed without question the legal de- 
cisions of the Patriarchate, as long as these decisions did not 
infringe upon the rights of the Turks or Islam. However, by 
changing the Patriarch continually and exacting enormous sums 
of money for the appointment of a successor, they saw to it 
that the affairs of the Patriarchate did not prosper too well. In 
the seventeenth century there were fifty-five changes of patri- 
archs, the same man being appointed and deposed several times 
depending upon the political and financial whims of the Grand 

This could not fail to have a demoralizing effect upon the 
ecclesiastics of the Phanar and upon the laymen around them. 
The constant need for money to satisfy the Turks led to ex- 
actions on the people and a willingness to sacrifice everything 
for money. Consequently in the eyes of the subject populations 
and of Europe as a whole the Phanar became synonymous with 
greed and avarice. It could scarcely be otherwise and we can 
only marvel that the general moral decay was not worse than 
it was. 

From the end of the seventeenth century the Patriarchate 
became even more aggressively Greek and consciously bent all 
its efforts toward the Hellenization of all the Orthodox Chris- 
tians in the Ottoman Empire. It set itself to abolish the Church 
Slavic language in the service of the Church, to Hellenize all 
the dioceses, the ecclesiastics, and the more prominent classes 
of the population and to wipe out all non-Greek nationalisms 
in the Empire. It wished to Hellenize the Christian Balkan 
peoples and use them to crush the Ottoman Empire from within 
and to re-establish the old Greek Eastern Roman Empire. This 
process weighed more heavily upon the Bulgarians than upon 
the other Balkan peoples, for they were the nearest to the 
capital and hence most accessible as a source of funds. 

The destruction of the Second Bulgarian Empire thus exposed 
the Bulgarian people to a double exploitation. 

(a) The Turks deprived the Bulgarians of statehood and all 
their local organs of government and integrated them as an 
inferior class in the Ottoman Empire. They levied crushing 
taxes and on the slightest provocation sent their troops into the 

The Historical Background 23 

countryside to abuse and massacre the population. Their raid- 
ing detachments stole young girls in large numbers for the 
harems of the leading Turks. They recruited by force large 
numbers of boys for the Corps of Janissaries (1330-1826), 15 
a fanatical unit composed entirely of denationalized and Mo- 
hammedanized ex-Christians, devoted completely to Islam and 
its Sultan-Caliph. The Janissaries were a particularly feared and 
hated corps which, as an elite troop of 100,000 men, won many 
victories for the Sultan and Islam in the early years of the 
Turkish expansion. The Turkish terroristic regime forced a 
growing stream of Bulgarian emigration into all the neighbor- 
ing countries. 

(b) The Greeks, once given the ecclesiastical control of the 
Balkans, deprived the Bulgarians of their national church, 
their hierarchy, and so far as possible, their clergy. The Greek 
bishops who shared the "great Hellenic idea" began to elimi- 
nate all traces of Bulgarian culture, the Liturgy, the language, 
the script, schools and literature. In every field where Bulgarian 
had been used, Greek began to penetrate. Even the Greek 
monks on Mount Athos heated their ovens with Slavic manu- 
scripts. They oppressed the Bulgarians culturally and introduced 
an era of intellectual darkness and ignorance. The Greek 
bishops sent into Bulgaria were usually the least educated and 
were ecclesiastical tax-gatherers and businessmen. They en- 
tered the villages with Janissary protection to gather the taxes 
for the Phanar and were interested only in plundering the 
Bulgarian dioceses. Step by step this process Hellenized the 
church, the public and commercial life of the country, and the 
entire system of education. Greek became the medium of com- 
munication of all who aspired to any post of prominence, in 
learning or in business. 

This Hellenization met with the most bitter opposition and 
resistance from the peasantry in the villages, especially those in 
the mountainous area of the Balkans, and from the artisans 
and workers of the cities. Thus at the time when Greek seemed 
to be gaining among the better classes, the Bulgarian language 
was still used exclusively in the remote villages and in the many 
small monasteries scattered throughout the mountainous regions. 

24 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Here the speech and the traditions remained alive and vital. 
The Bulgarian peasant, with his spirit of industry, became the 
decisive force in the struggle for the self-preservation of the 
Bulgarian nation and proved himself more powerful than the 
denationalized city man. 

However, in the cities, too, the artisans and craftsmen main- 
tained their own culture and did not adopt that of the so- 
called upper classes. Their guilds, once the Ottoman government 
was induced to grant them charters, became again a vital force 
in the Bulgarian movement and acted as centers of intense 
Bulgarian patriotic and national consciousness. The two forces 
combined saved the nation from oblivion and extinction. 

The situation was most desperate in the field of education. 
The only schools which existed were the kiliynaya schools 16 
which were run by semi-literate Greek teachers in connection 
with the Greek churches in the different cities and villages. It 
was thus very difficult for a Bulgarian to secure even a limited 
education and almost impossible to secure any in his native 
tongue. Few of the students could hope to go to the leading 
Greek schools like that of Chalki in the Sea of Marmora where 
some degree of education along religious lines was given. There 
was some education possible in the Bulgarian monasteries on 
Mount Athos, the Holy Mount, but even there the system of 
education, devoted to a study of the monuments of the past, 
offered little for the needs of the present. 

As the Turkish Empire grew weaker, the situation became 
worse. The Sultans proved themselves unable to control their 
local and provincial governors who set themselves up as almost 
independent potentates with the one aim of gouging the last 
possible sums from the Christian rayah. 17 In the 18th century 
such semi-outlaws as Pazvantoglou, Pasha of Vidin, with their 
bands, ravaged much of Bulgaria. The Janissaries too became 
restless and went off to plunder on their own in defiance of 
the will of the Sultans whom they attempted to make and un- 
make with disturbing regularity and for little discernible reason. 

Yet even under these difficult conditions, it was still possible 
for unscrupulous Bulgarians to make personal fortunes by 

The Historical Background 25 

playing the Turkish game and exploiting their own people. 
These were the chorbadji, 18 who were as cordially detested by 
the population as were any of the other oppressors, for they 
bound the peasants by lending them money at usurious rates, 
and they added through this their own exactions. Men of this 
type were not interested in any amelioration of the lot of the 
the peasants. They were largely in league with the Phanariote 
agents of the Patriarch and the representatives of the Sultan. 
This did not save them personally from the exactions of the 
other oppressors but though they groaned over payments that 
they were often forced to make, they soon found ways to recoup 
their fortunes and to continue on their bloodsucking careers. 
These men, partly Bulgarians and not by any means entirely 
Hellenized, fought stubbornly against the introduction of any 
enlightenment or education into occupied Bulgaria, and they 
were always ready to denounce to the authorities of state and 
church any individual who incurred their displeasure or jealousy. 

Under these circumstances there was the danger that in the 
course of time the Bulgarian national character would be broken 
because the country was suffering from devastation, depopula- 
tion, and the migration of many of the stronger and more am- 
bitious individuals. 

Any Bulgarian resistance or open opposition to this political 
Turkish and religious Greek oppression and economic exploita- 
tion was hopeless during the period of Turkish expansion be- 
cause of the country's geopolitical position. All the roads lead- 
ing to the Danube, to Hungary, Austria and Western Europe 
passed across Bulgarian territory, and therefore Turkish armies 
in force were constantly moving to and fro across its territory. 
These were the years when all of Europe and Christendom 
was confronted with the danger of Turkish conquest and all 
armed opposition from Europe met with disaster. The period 
is marked by the Christian defeat at Varna where the Polish 
King Wladyslaw met his death (1448), Kosovo (1448) where 
Hunyadi Janos of Hungary was defeated, Mohacs (1526), where 
the Jagellonian King Louis of Hungary lost his life, and the 
first siege of Vienna (1529). Although these dates meant much 

26 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

to Europe, Europeans were not aroused to meet the Turkish 
menace seriously or to try to liberate the Bulgarians and other 
Christians of the Balkans. 

It is true that there were at this period certain emissaries 
who tried to arouse Europe to the need for Bulgarian libera- 
tion. Such were the merchant Pavel Djordjevich (1520) and 
the great Bulgarian patriot Peter Parchevich, a Bulgarian boyar, 
who was sent in 1657 by Emperor Ferdinand to Bohdan Khmel- 
nytsky, Hetman of Ukraine, to try to reconcile the Hetman and 
the Poles so as to induce him to join with Poland and the 
Empire in an attack upon the Ottoman Empire. 19 

Opposition became a little more feasible after the Turkish 
Empire was seriously weakened by the crushing of its fleet by 
Don Juan of Austria at Lepanto (1571) and still more so after 
the crushing defeat at Vienna (1683) when that capital was 
saved by the bravery of the Austrians and the Polish King Jan 
Sobieski. Sobieski, whose title was Rex Poloniae, Magnus Dux 
Lituaniae et Ukrainae (as given on his monument in Vienna), 
had with him a detachment of Ukrainian Kozaks who were 
regarded as specialists in fighting the Turks. This battle struck 
a death blow to Turkish power and produced repercussions 
in Bulgaria. Thus after Lepanto there was a revolt in Nikopol 
(1598) and after Vienna, in Tirnovo (1686), in Chiprovets 
(1688), and in Sofia (1737-1738). In addition to these there was 
the continuous activity of the hayduks, groups of outlaws fight- 
ing the Turks on behalf of the Christians. The hayduks have 
lived on in Bulgarian folksongs and traditions. 20 

After the battle of Vienna, the Hapsburgs began to take the 
offensive against the Turks and the course of events favored 
the Bulgarian revival. The Austrians liberated Hungary and 
then crossed the Danube and seized Belgrade. When they gave 
it back to the Turks, they protected the Orthodox Christians 
by inviting the Serb Patriarch Arsen Tsrnoyevich with his fol- 
lowers, some 36,000 families, to settle in the military frontier 
north of the Danube (1690). These Serbs did not receive the 
full autonomy that they had been promised but the Orthodox 
Serb centers of Karlovtsi and Novi Sad had an opportunity to 
develop under Austrian rule, to stimulate anti-Turkish feelings 

The Historical Background 27 

throughout the Balkans, and to become acquainted through 
Vienna with the progress of Western European thought. 

The other factor that favored the Bulgarian revival was the 
appearance of the Russian Empire on the Balkan scene. This 
was the result of a long process of development. Tsar Ivan III 
of Moscow had married the heir to the Paleologue throne in 
Constantinople and put forward the claim to be the heir of 
Constantinople with Moscow as the Third Rome. Muscovy 
grew in power and the tsars extended their claims to be the 
legitimate rulers of the Eastern Slavs. When Tsar Alexis in 
1654 by a treaty with the Ukrainian Kozak Republic con- 
cluded an alliance with that state, the tsars regarded it as an 
act of subordination and by clever manoeuvering finally se- 
cured the control of Kiev. Their next move was to transfer al- 
most by force the jurisdiction over the Metropolitanate of Kiev 
from Constantinople to Moscow and in 1685 to suppress all 
the liberties and practices of the Kievan Metropolitanate. They 
also forbade the printing of Ukrainian church books and sub- 
stituted those printed in Moscow. Then looking southward they 
flooded the Balkans, both Serbia and Bulgaria, with Russian 
books. Thus in the 18th century the Balkan Orthodox felt the 
influence of these works and a Muscovite South Slavic Church 
language began to exercise considerable influence. 

In 1709 Peter I defeated at Poltava Charles XII of Sweden 
and his Ukrainian ally, the Hetman Ivan Mazepa, gaining the 
opportunity to change the Tsardom of Muscovy into the Russian 
Empire. He used the Ukrainian territory that he had thus ac- 
quired to spread Russian influence down to the Black Sea and 
along its coasts in the hope that he could seize Constantinople. 
Russian control of the Black Sea meant the crushing of the 
Khan of Crimea, a vassal of the Sultan, and extended Russian 
influence into the Danubian Principalities. By the Treaty of 
Kuchuk Kainardji in 1771 Russia forced Turkey to recognize 
her as the protector of all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman 
Empire, thus securing for the Russians the possibility of inter- 
fering at will in Turkish affairs. The destruction of Moham- 
medan influence along the northern and northwestern shores of 
the Black Sea and the foundation of cities like Odesa offered 

28 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

improved opportunities for trade. The Russian government en- 
couraged the emigration of the Bulgarians and there slowly 
grew up Bulgarian colonies of merchants in Odesa and other 
coastal cities. These colonies prospered. The rich Bulgarians 
who formed them were sharply distinguished in the minds of 
the people from the chorbadji. They had different ideas of 
patriotism and by the beginning of the nineteenth century these 
new emigre colonies consisted of men who were able and willing 
to help their unfortunate brothers in their homeland. The early 
stages of the Bulgarian revival owe an infinite debt of gratitude 
to these colonies abroad, for they were of great assistance in 
developing the Bulgarian spirit as it showed itself in the first 
half of the nineteenth century. 

We can see from this brief review of the past greatness and 
tragedy of Bulgaria the elements that promoted the develop- 
ment of the Bulgarian national consciousness. Before the end 
of the first Christian millennium the Orthodox Church and the 
Church Slavic language had developed for the Bulgarians a 
common culture, and their struggles for independence from 
Byzantium fostered in them a Slavic consciousness as opposed 
to the Greek. The Bulgarians felt themselves at this early 
period an independent nation. This feeling preserved them 
during the interregnum between the First and Second Bulgarian 
Empires. Even after the Turks destroyed the Second Empire, 
the Bulgarians still retained, despite their humiliation, the con- 
sciousness of their separate national character and their sepa- 
rate fate. No matter how confused that consciousness became, 
it still existed and only awaited a favorable moment to reassert 

The fact that this spirit was already in existence made it 
possible for modern Bulgarian nationalism to create on a his- 
torical basis an idealized image of the fate of the Bulgarian 
nation in the past and to place at the center of the conception 
of their national culture the "sacred ideas" of the contribution 
of tihe Bulgarian saints and tsars to the whole of Slavic Ortho- 
dox Christianity and culture and then to project a concept of 
Bulgaria's mission in the future in terms of the past. These ideas 
and ideals were summed up in the greater idea of the beloved 

The Historical Background 29 

"motherland" so as to inspire dynamic patriotism and rouse 
the people for the struggle for the resurrection of the Bulgarian 
tsardom. It was an idea that was forged through centuries 
of struggles and conflicts with their neighbors, especially the 
Greeks and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, struggles that 
gave the Bulgarian revival many of its distinguishing features. 
All of these ideas were reflected in the culture and literature 
to which we shall turn in the following chapters. 


Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 

To appreciate and understand the writings of the early leaders 
of the Bulgarian revival in the eighteenth century, we must 
glance back at the work of the earlier periods, even though 
many of these books had largely passed out of the conscious 
memory of the people and were preserved in a small number 
of copies only in some of the monasteries in Bulgaria proper 
or in those of the neighboring countries. Yet they had left con- 
fused memories which soon took proper shape, once the in- 
tellectual interests of the people were turned in that direction. 

As we have seen, there are practically no remains of the Altaic- 
speaking Bulgarians. Their few remaining monuments, such 
as the Krum Monument at Madara, mostly contain inscriptions 
in broken Greek. It was not until the time of SS. Cyril and 
Methodius that there existed anything that we can call a Bul- 
garian literature. There was the folklore but even here the Al- 
taic and Slavic sources were thoroughly amalgamated. 

SS. Cyril and Methodius were widely travelled and highly 
educated men and in preparation for their work in Great 
Moravia, they had prepared some translations. They wrote 
these out in a very unusual script prepared by Cyril-Constantine, 
the so-called Glagolitsa. 1 This was apparently heavily influenced 
by some of the scripts of Asia Minor and the Caucasus, for it 
shows more similarity to these than to the Greek minuscule from 
which it has been often derived. After their deaths, a new and 
more readable script came into use, the so-called Kirilitsa (Cyril's 
script), although it is fairly certain that it developed later than 
the Glagolitsa either in Okhrida or Preslav. This is based frankly 
on the Greek majuscule with the addition of certain letters that 


Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 31 

were necessary to express sounds which existed in Slavic but 
not in Greek. It very soon displaced the Glagolitsa in the eastern 
part of the Balkans and is now the basis of the alphabets of all 
the Slavic Orthodox or Uniat peoples, the Bulgarians, Serbs, Cos- 
sacks, Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians. It was once used 
even for Romanian and Albanian. The Glagolitsa steadily with- 
drew to the west to Okhrida and Athos, where it was used until 
the end of the twelfth century, finding its final home in some 
of the Croatian monasteries on the Dalmatian coast. 

It is worthwhile mentioning that there is a story that con- 
nects the origin of the Glagolitsa with the present Ukrainian 
city of Kherson. Constantine was sent on a mission to the Khazar 
state (860-861) on the lower Volga and on his way he disem- 
barked at Kherson to travel overland. The Life of Cyril says 
of this: 

"And he found there a copy of the Gospel and the Psalms 
written in Ruce characters (ros'sky pismeny pisano, variant 
rous'sky) and he found a man speaking this language and 
spoke to him and understood the meaning of what he said, 
and, adjusting it to his own dialect, he analyzed the char- 
acters, both the vowels and the consonants, and praying to 
God, started quickly to read and speak (the Ruce language)." 2 

Whether the story of the script is to be accepted historically is 
not yet certain but at all events Constantine in Kherson came 
into direct contact with the ancestors of the modern Ukrainians 
who were already speaking in that area the original form of 
their present language. 

It is fair to presume that SS. Cyril and Methodius employed 
as the basis for their translations from the Greek the language 
of the Slavs around Salonika, the Macedonian dialect which 
they had spoken since childhood, although in Moravia they 
added words and phrases that were of local origin there. In 
spite of the fact that some Macedonians consider themselves 
today a separate Slavic nation with its own language, the 
Bulgarians stoutly maintain that the language which many 
scholars call Old Church Slavic is really Old Bulgarian. Even 
though it was written outside of Bulgarian territory, in the 

32 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

narrower sense of the word, it was used, developed fully and 
flourished on Bulgarian territory. 

The Christianization of the Bulgarians created the demand 
for (a) an Orthodox "ritual" literature on the one hand and 
(b) a "didactic" literature or literature of instruction on the 
other, to strengthen and deepen the Christian world outlook 
and ideals. These religious needs had to be satisfied by trans- 
lations from the Greek, a circumstance which stimulated the 
Bulgarians to produce some original works. Let us briefly sur- 
vey the more important works of the old and medieval periods. 

St. Cyril commenced his work with the translation of the 
Service Books of the Church, the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, and 
the necessary passages from the Gospels and Epistles. It is also 
possible that he translated part of the Old Testament. We are 
still more certain that he put into Old Bulgarian the Nomo- 
canon, the Church regulations, and the Paterik, a collection 
of short lives of the saints. Among the original writings of this 
period is the Life of St. Cyril, apparently by his brother Metho- 
dius, and the Life of Methodius, which is usually assigned to 
the latter's pupil, St. Clement of Okhrida (d. 910). Both Lives 
underscore the approval of the Slavic Liturgy by the Apostolic 
See in Rome. 

The work of the two brothers was continued by their disciples, 
St. Clement, Bishop Konstantin, and loan the Exarch. Work- 
ing at Okhrida, the center of Macedonia, and at Preslav, the 
capital of Bulgaria, under tsars Boris and Simeon, these men 
and other unknown translators put into the language of the 
Bulgarians other selected translations mostly from Greek re- 
ligious texts and writings. Later they began to use this material 
more or less independently to create an Old Bulgarian ecclesi- 
astical literature. 

The most novel work of this period was undoubtedly that 
of the Monk Khrabar, On Letters (the Slavic Characters). We 
know nothing of the life or other works of this monk but he 
left a very original, polemical and patriotic defense of the 
action of St. Cyril in forming a Slavic alphabet. He boldly 
claims that it is superior to Hebrew, Greek or Latin, because 
it was made in a few years and at one time by a Christian saint. 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 33 

The apology is one of the most curious documents of this period 
and shows the Slavic antagonism to Greek cultural domination 
and claims. 

When we sum up the achievements of Bulgarian literature 
in these first Christian centuries, which included the so-called 
"Golden Age" under the rule of Tsar Simeon (893-927), we 
find them rather impressive. The most important translations 
in the different fields are: in the Christian "ritual" literature, 
the Gospel (Tetraevangel) with its beautiful images and com- 
parisons, its majestic language and moral content which estab- 
lished the standards for literary values; the Bible, completed 
by Gregory the Presbyter, which functioned as a kind of en- 
cyclopedia for the time; the Apostle, including the Acts of the 
Apostles and the Epistles; and the Psalter, with its heartfelt 
lyricism. These were the favorite reading of the period. 

In theology, which was the cornerstone of medieval culture, 
the basic manual of the Orthodox Christian doctrine was The 
Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus, 
translated by loan, Exarch of Bulgaria. Among the other works 
were: Treatises of Athanasius of Alexandria and Gregory Nazian- 
zen; Commentaries on the Gospel by Presbyter Konstantin; Com- 
mentaries on the Psalter, the Psalms and the Prophets; collec- 
tions of Sermons which explained the whole system of the Chris- 
tian faith; and the Menea for reading, with its large gallery of 
Christian heroes and saints, often told in novelesque form, often 
fantastic and usually thrilling. Very popular was the Zlatostruy 
(Golden River), a collection of excerpts from the sermons of 
St. Chrysostom and Epiphanius of Cyprus. For the Old Testa- 
ment there was a condensation of the Paleia. We must also 
mention the Revelations of Methodius of Patara, the Sybilline 
books of Byzantium. 

Among the translations in the field of history were the 
Chronographia; the Chronicle of Malalas; the Chronicon of 
Georgius Monachus (Hamartolos), starting with Adam and Eve 
and finishing with the death of Emperor Theophilus (842), 
with some general information on Plato and the work of 
Georgius Synkellus. But there were surely other books by Bul- 
garian chroniclers which have not survived. 

34 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

In the natural sciences we have the Hexaemeron (the Six 
Days of Creation), edited by loan, Exarch of Bulgaria (with 
short notes on the teachings of Plato and Aristotle); a commen- 
tary on Genesis; and the Physiologus, a medieval compendium 
of natural history, with fantastic stories about the self-sacrifice 
of the pelican, the phoenix rising from the ashes, the unicorn, 
and other animals, plants and minerals. 

In the field of jurisprudence there were compiled in Bulgaria 
The Court Law for the People and the Nomocanon. 

In the sphere of belles-lettres, the Church eagerly sponsored 
didactic novels. This genre is represented by some of the classic 
themes of world literature and includes the legendary biography 
of Alexander the Great, a most popular, fantastic novel which 
developed in the second and third centuries A.D. in the cultural 
sphere of Alexandria, Egypt, and was included in the Chronicle 
of Malalas; the History of Troy which was also included in the 
Chronicle of Malalas; the "ideological" novel of Stefanit and 
Ikhnilat which has been traced back to India in the fifth cen- 
tury and then reached Bulgaria by way of Persia, Arabia and 
Byzantium; Varlaam and Josaphat, the history of Buddha, which 
originated in India in the sixth century B.C. and was Christian- 
ized in Byzantium and then transmitted to Bulgaria; the story 
of Akir the Wise, based upon a Hebrew story in the Book of 
Tobit (second or third century B.C.) with its moral "Whoso 
digs a pit for another to fall into, will fall into it himself"; and 
the Deeds of Digenis, an epic of the Greek frontiersmen in 
Anatolia defending Christianity against Islam (a later trans- 

It is probable that the East Slavic apocryphal Story of Solomon 
and Kitovras (Centaur), which appears as one theme in the 
legend of Merlin, is also from Bulgaria. 

A good example of the secular literature can be seen in the 
Collection (Izbornik) of Svyatoslav, which was originally com- 
piled for the Bulgarian tsar but preserved in Ruce-Ukraine. 
It consists of an abridged collection of aphorisms, historical and 
philosophical treatises, theological expositions and lists of the 
Roman and Byzantine rulers. 

Other popular works of literature were the Apocrypha. These 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 35 

books were not sanctioned by the Church as parts of Orthodox 
religious literature but they included such pieces as the Gospels 
of Nicodemus, Jacob and Thomas and many others, "supple- 
menting" the Old and New Testaments with stories about 
various persons and events mentioned in the Bible and Church 
history. The themes of some of these entered into Dante's Divina 
Commedia, the works of Milton, Klopstock and Rilke, and even 
supplied the prototype for the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoyevsky's 
Brothers Karamazov. 

The great wealth of themes and the wide dissemination of 
the Apocrypha are due to the fact that the official religious 
Church literature, with its theological definitions and subtleties, 
could not satisfy the mind and soul of the masses. They raised 
countless questions of "human interest" on such matters as the 
life of our Lord and His Mother, Adam and Eve, the history 
of the tree from which the Holy Cross had been made, the 
Apostles, patriarchs and martyrs, Satan the archenemy of Christ, 
hell and paradise, the creation and destruction of the world. 
The Apocrypha answered this curiosity and thirst for knowledge 
with a vast quantity of "true stories," the marvels of which were 
limited only by the imagination of the narrators. They fasci- 
nated and astounded the readers. This apocryphal literature be- 
came very popular among the peasants, whose agricultural work 
was warmly honored and blessed by another apocryphal book 
purporting to be by Christ Himself. From Bulgaria these Apocry- 
pha wandered to all Southern and Eastern Slav nations and 
even to the Western Slavs. They absorbed similar western 
Apocrypha from Latin and German sources which were in the 
sixteenth century even published in Cyrillic by the Franciscans 
in Bosnia. Finally in the Slavic countries these developed into 
a flourishing prose-epos which influenced the folklore and stimu- 
lated the development of drama. Much of this literature cannot 
be dated and among the Southern Slavs and in Ukraine it main- 
tained its popularity into the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. 3 

This apocryphal literature which was as a rule translated 
from Byzantine sources was greatly stimulated by the Bogomil 
movement which developed in Bulgaria in the tenth century. 

36 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

The feudal state and church, both organized on the Byzantine 
hierarchical principles with the current pomposity of the time, 
disappointed and confused the believers and created a kind 
of scepticism. The Bogomil doctrine must be regarded as a 
protest and resistance against the Byzantine forms of state and 
church organization and an attempt to seek for individual 
salvation through a moral perfection ostensibly on the basis 
of the Gospel and by the liberation of mind and soul from every 
state and church authority. The dissatisfaction of many good 
Christians with the existing state of affairs was again intensified 
by the schism in the Universal Church (1054) and the ensuing 
struggle between the Eastern and Western Churches. 

An interesting figure of this period was the Priest Kozma 
who died in 969. He is known by his one sermon against the 
new Bogomil heresy. 4 This gives in some detail a picture of 
Bulgarian church life of the day, by no means flattering, for 
he mercilessly criticizes the haughtiness and worldliness of both 
the bishops and the monks, features that were all too common 
in both the East and the West. He also tells much of the teach- 
ings of the Bogomils and their peculiar doctrines and social 
philosophy which, despite an anti-ecclesiastical and anti-govern- 
mental trend, were very popular among the poor and oppressed 
peasantry, for they offered an explanation of the real origin 
of social inequality. Yet with all his merits, Kozma represented 
a point of view that was to become dominant in the next cen- 
turies, a profound conviction that the truth had already been 
entirely revealed and that all problems would be resolved if 
people lived up to the obligations imposed upon them by 

On the other side there was undoubtedly a large amount of 
Bogomil literature and many legends which were later suppressed 
and destroyed, for the Bogomils and their leader, a priest, Jere- 
miah, were skillful mythmakers and their ideas easily penetrated 
many of the apocryphal legends and colored them, as they 
spread throughout the Slavic Orthodox world. Yet again we 
notice that these ideas largely were in the religious field, and 
the secular life of the population passed almost unnoticed by 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 37 

both the Orthodox and the heretical sects. Religion was the 
dominant interest. We have few accounts of the secular and 
state leaders except when they were deemed worthy of sainthood 
and their lives could be handled within the framework of 

These tendencies lasted into the Second Bulgarian Empire, 
which produced even less literature than did the first. It was 
the period when Hesychasm (a form of quietism) and mysticism 
swept the entire East and Bulgaria followed again in the path 
of Constantinople. However, in the fourteenth century the 
country did develop some interesting writers such as Patriarch 
Evthimi (Euthymius), the author of several Lives, especially 
one of St. loan Rilski, the founder of the Rilo Monastery and 
patron of Bulgaria (died 946). Evthimi established a school in 
Tirnovo with some fifty students and this made Tirnovo a 
Slavic Athens for the Southern and Eastern Slavs. 

His student and admirer, Grigory Tsamblak, continued his 
work. He left Bulgaria after the Turkish conquest of his country 
and tried in vain to be recognized as the Orthodox Metropolitan 
of Kiev, after that ancient Metropolitan see had been practically 
abandoned by its holders, who had transferred their seat to the 
rising Moscow. Tsamblak, who was well known and supported 
by Ukraine, was for a while even at the Council of Constance 
in 1418. He failed in his endeavors and finally died in a monas- 
tery in Moldavia. Among his chief literary works was a Sermon 
in praise of Evthimi. Another pupil of Evthimi, Yoasaf, wrote 
a moving description of the Downfall of the Capital of Tirnovo. 

We have now reached the most disastrous event in Bulgarian 
history, the conquest of the country by the Turks and the sup- 
pression of all Bulgarian independent institutions. 

At that period with the ever increasing menace of the Turks, 
the Bulgarians and the Serbs began to cooperate more closely. 
Thus Konstantin Kostenetski, the philosopher, wrote a biography 
of Knez Lazar, the Serb leader who was killed at Kosovo and 
became a symbol of joint Slavic resistance to the Turks. In this 
quite unusual work, although it is written in Serb, Konstantin, 
a pupil of Evthimi, wrote a really secular biography without 

38 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

the usual hagiographical details and embellishments. In fact, 
it was almost the first distinguished secular writing that was 
done by an educated Bulgarian. 

All of these writers had been afraid of introducing into their 
works the purely vernacular forms which in the course of time 
had developed in Bulgarian and separated it from the norms 
of the Old Church Slavic. They had tried to accept and preserve 
the old traditions of Bulgarian as these had been worked out 
by SS. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples some centuries 
earlier. Yet almost against their will they failed to maintain 
the purity of the old language and with the fall of education 
which came during the Turkish invasion, it became more and 
more impossible for the authors even to pretend to do so. The 
number of persons literate in Bulgarian even among the clergy 
steadily declined as the Greek influence grew greater and greater. 

Thus for centuries the chief books that were available for 
those persons who knew how to read were the so-called Damas- 
cenes. These were in their original form the Greek works of 
Damascene the Studite and consisted of pious stories and moral 
examples. There were several translations into Bulgarian and, 
almost against their will, the translators introduced words, 
phrases and constructions from the vernacular so as to make 
the books intelligible to their readers. This was the first step 
in the formation of the modern language but it was still a litera- 
ture that was frankly looking backward to the traditional genres 
of religion and theology, although these subjects were treated 

The people, deprived of close contact with educated leaders 
and groaning under the pressure that was exerted upon them 
from all sides, cherished perhaps even more carefully their 
popular folklore and especially folksongs. These had undoubted- 
ly existed for centuries in oral tradition and therefore followed 
the popular speech. The older clergy had frowned upon them 
and such men as Kosma could see little difference between them 
and the Bogomil productions since both were the work of the 
devil, i.e., not the products of the Church and the Church 
culture. The folklore was the creative self-expression of especially 
talented persons or the collective creations of social groups in 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 39 

the pure Bulgarian vernacular and it constituted for the peasant 
class a real "people's" literature; it was handed down orally 
from generation to generation in an unbroken but ever changing 
stream from the primitive Slavic times and represented the 
living literary and historical archives of the nation. This folklore 
included the whole life cycle of the family with all its joys and 
sorrows, the various stages of the peasant cycle of the year, the 
ritual songs connected with birth, weddings and funerals, other 
ceremonial songs, and also fairy tales, proverbs and pagan magi- 
cal formulas. By the end of the eighteenth century, the value 
and beauty of these folksongs and of the folklore in general 
were becoming recognized by European scholars and the efforts 
to collect and preserve the oral tradition of the various peoples 
spread into the Balkans. Consequently large numbers of folk- 
creations were finally preserved from the lips of native singers 
before they perished under the impact of the modern world. 

The most striking of these songs are those dealing with King 
Marko, the lord of Prilep, who also figures as one of the chief 
heroes in the Serb heroic epos. Both the Serb and Bulgarian 
songs are written in the same ten-syllable metre and they are 
very similar in spirit. Marko, the son of King Vukashin who 
fell in the battle on the Maritsa River in 1371, was an histori- 
cal figure of the period of the Turkish conquest. It is very dif- 
ficult to understand why he should have been singled out for 
special consideration. He took no part in the battle of Kosovo, 
although the Serbs have tried to bring him into some connec- 
tion with it, and he seems to have died fighting in the Turkish 
ranks in 1393. He was apparently a stormy and reckless fighter, 
perpetually at odds with all his neighbors. He had difficulties 
with his wife who left him for the arms of another princelet, 
Mina of Kostur. He may have been of tremendous physical 
strength, for that is how he appears in both the Serb and 
Bulgarian versions of his exploits, although the Bulgarian poems 
seem to be far closer to life and more realistic than do the 
Serb legends which idealize his character. 

Yet, whatever the reason, he is presented as an ideal figure 
and a true champion of the oppressed Christians. As a kind of 
Balkan Robin Hood, he rescues the innocent, he frees them 

40 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

from Turkish prisons, and inflicts tremendous punishments up- 
on the Turks for their inhuman persecutions; he does not hesi- 
tate to beard the Sultan even in his own palace in Constantinople 
when need arises. The feats of Marko cover a period of a 
couple of centuries and several sultans, although we know that 
the real Marko died at a relatively early age. 

Marko became the true paladin of the Bulgarians and the 
Balkan Slavs in their dark hours. His friends and co-fighters 
include the traditional heroes of all the peoples who were drawn 
under the Turkish yoke, and behind them we can recognize 
such persons as the Transylvanian Hungarian Hunyadi Janos 
or the Romanian Yanko of Sibiu and representatives of nearly 
all the non-Greek peoples of the Balkans. Apparently they all 
needed an ideal, a hero, and, for whatever reason, their choice 
fell upon Marko, who became the immortal hero of the folk 
epos on a tremendous scale. We can see in him the glorified 
exponent of a unified Balkan Orthodox Slavic culture as it was 
forged by the struggles of more than five hundred years. 

Closely associated in spirit with the Marko tradition are the 
hayduk songs of later origin. Marko carries us back to a period 
when there was a living consciousness of Bulgarian national 
independence and a national state. They reflect the glories of 
the past. The hayduk songs are different for the hayduks were 
the outlaws of the Balkans. They were men who had suffered 
unjustly at the hands of the Turks and who, instead of yielding 
passively, had gone into the mountains and forests and there 
in small guerilla bands, had waited for the opportunity to take 
summary vengeance upon their oppressors and enemies. These 
enemies included not only the Turks themselves and their 
agents but also the chorbadji, the rich Bulgarians who had made 
their peace with the invaders and were profiting in their service 
and recouping any personal losses that they might incur from 
the Turkish regime by grinding down still further their unfortu- 
nate fellow-Bulgarians. In this sense the hayduk songs have a 
strong sense of social justice and stimulated popular revolt 
against the upper classes. They are similar to those songs in all 
countries where popular discontent born of unjust treatment 
by those who should have been the people's protectors glorifies 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 41 

the outlaw who steals from the rich to reward the poor and 
also opposes an unjust foreign regime. These songs were espe- 
cially popular among the Ukrainians, the Slovaks and the Poles 
along the Carpathian Mountains where the forests furnished 
a refuge for freedom and justice. We can well look at the 
hayduk songs as the precursors of the modern national movement 
in Bulgaria and link them with the ideas of men like Botev who 
threw themselves definitely into the arms of modern radicalism 
and the class struggle. 

Thus during the Turkish occupation and the Greek cultural 
domination, the national spirit of Bulgaria took refuge in her 
folklore. It returned to the very springs of the Bulgarian na- 
tional consciousness, finding shelter in the creative forces of 
those classes which had preserved the Bulgarian traditions most 
fully, the peasants and the craftsmen. 

Yet the preceding centuries of Bulgarian Christian literature 
represent not only glorious pages in the history of Bulgaria 
itself but they are of far-reaching importance for the whole 
Slavic world including Croatia and Serbia and especially the 
Eastern Slavs. The Belo-Ruthenians and Muscovites received 
their faith from Kiev, the old capital of Ruce-Ukraine and the 
center of Slavic Christianity for all eastern Europe. However, 
this Ruce-Ukrainian center of Kiev, with its celebrated Lavra 
Monastery, received its Slavic Christianity and the Slavic script, 
along with the fairly diverse types of translated literature and 
the Church language and even the first Church hierarchy, from 
the Patriarch of Okhrida perhaps more than from Byzantium. 
This Church language, which originated in Bulgaria, for a 
couple of centuries was also the "holy language" of the churches 
in Moldavia and Wallachia (Romania) and Albania which 
were at that time integrated in this sphere of Slavic culture. 

The importance of old Bulgaria and its literature for the 
whole Slavic world is well expressed by one of the great Slavicists, 
V. Jagic, 5 in these words: 

"The ancient Bulgarian literature had attained such a 
phenomenal development in the number of books of a 
church and religious character that it was able to accumu- 
late, that it may justly take its rank side by side with the 

42 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

richest literatures of those days, viz. the Greek and Latin. 
It certainly surpassed all the other European literatures of 
the same kind. Strictly speaking, during those times, Church 
literature existed in only three languages: Greek, Latin and 

Summing up, we may say that this old Bulgarian literature 
and the period of Bulgarian history in which it was produced 
are of fundamental importance to the whole of Slavdom. Bul- 
garia succeeded in maintaining and preserving the achievements 
of the Slavic apostles and educators in Great Moravia; it gave 
the Slavs a Slavic Church language for divine services which 
soon became the Slavic literary language of the time; it pre- 
sented to the Slavs a rather impressive literature and thus laid 
the basis for Slavic education and culture. Bulgaria is the cradle 
of Slavic civilization. From the earliest times this Bulgarian- 
Slavic Christianity was marked by a deep emotional conscious- 
ness of race and nationality, as we can see from this panegyric 
of St. Cyril by his disciple Clement in the tenth century: 

"By the grace of Jesus Christ, thou didst come among 
men as shepherd and teacher, and like a lion, thou didst 
open thy mouth against the three-language monopoly of 
the heretics who, blinded by envy, preached that it was 
derogatory to praise God in any other language except 
Hebrew, Latin and Greek, and out of malice became the 
accomplices of Pilate. Thou didst destroy their blasphemies 
with plain parables. Having translated the rubric from the 
Greek into Slavic, thou wentest to Rome." 6 

This national religious world outlook was backed by such per- 
sonalities as Tsar Simeon who had the ambition to consolidate 
Slavdom in the Balkans not only in the religious sphere but 
also politically. 

The Turks and Greeks, jointly, nearly annihilated those Bul- 
garian social classes in the church, the court, and the state 
which were the creators and bearers of the old Bulgarian nation 
and its literature and which in previous centuries, as the in- 
tellectual and political elite, had assured their historical con- 

Old and Middle Bulgarian Literature 43 

tinuity. During the period of Bulgaria's decline and fall, the 
clergy in the face of the Turkish menace tried to keep the hope 
of resurrection alive by developing the myth that their Bulgarian 
Tirnovo was destined after the fall of the Second Rome, Con- 
stantinople, to become the Third Rome of Christianity. As the 
plight of the Bulgarian Church became worse with every decade 
and the once famous monasteries became dependent upon the 
gifts of the rulers of fellow Orthodox nations, especially of dis- 
tant Moscow, the clever Bulgarian monks changed the Tirnovo 
of the myth to Moscow in order to justify their visits there and 
to increase the generosity of the Muscovite Church and Court. 
Thus the Bulgarian Church, after the fall of the nation, im- 
planted in Moscow the myth of "Moscow, the Third Rome" 
in the early sixteenth century. This doctrine, proclaimed by 
Filotey, 7 became the basis of modern Muscovite-Russian imperi- 
alism and in fact contributed to the final disintegration of the 
Ottoman Empire and the liberation of Bulgaria. 

Earlier still, the Bulgarian ecclesiastical diplomats, apparently 
looking for an ally against Byzantium, sought the aid of the 
dynasty of Ruce-Ukraine by spreading the Legend about the 
Babylonian Empire, the imperial crown and insignia of which 
were "brought" to Byzantium and from there "transferred" to 
the dynasty of Volodymyr. With the decline of Kiev and the 
rise of Muscovite-Russian imperialism, this legend also landed 
finally in Moscow for its "glorification." It found there favorable 
soil not only as a result of the Mongol tradition but it was 
later reinforced by another stimulus from the western territory 
of the Southern Slavs. There clashes with the Italians also de- 
veloped an ardent Slavic nationalism and induced the Dominican 
Juraj Krizhanich, the Father of Pan-Slavism (1618-1683), to 
visit Moscow for the propagation of the idea of a Slavic Empire 
under the leadership of Moscow. Although he was imprisoned 
in Siberia by the Moscow Tsar for fifteen years till he escaped, 
his political ideology was to be put to good use in the service 
of Muscovite expansion. 

The eighteenth century seemed to be a period when the forces 
of oppression in Bulgaria were at their zenith. The culture of 

44 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

the people was bound entirely in the framework of the past 
and lacked all stimulation from the modern West. It was then 
that there came the first change. The new phase began with 
the work of Father Paisi who is therefore regarded as the start- 
ing point for the modern Bulgarian movement. 


Father Paisi Khilandarski 

As was so often the case in the revival of the Slavic nations 
during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the initia- 
tive was given by a book which reflected in a more or less 
conscious form the long suppressed aspirations of an oppressed 
nation and was written in a form and language which could 
be understood by the common people and not in the traditional 
mode of expression. 

Such a work for the Bulgarians was the Istoriya slaveno-bol- 
garskaya o narode i o tsarey 1 i o svetikh bolgarskikh i o v'sekh 
dyeyaniya i bitiya bolgarskaya—The Slaveno-Bulgarian History 
about the Nation, the Tsars and the Bulgarian Saints and Alt 
the Acts and Life of the Bulgarians. The title-page then adds: 
"Collected and Arranged by Paisi, a Hieromonk who was in 
and came to the Holy Mount Athos from the Diocese of Samokov 
in 1745 and prepared this History in the year 1762 for the use 
of the Bulgarian Race." 

The title page of the manuscript tells us almost all that we 
know about the author, who is, at best, a shadowy but powerful 
figure in the Bulgarian revival, and about the scope of the work 
and the purpose for which it was written. We can learn a few 
other details from some allusions in the work itself and a few 
notes which have survived of his activities but otherwise the 
life and career of Father Paisi are still veiled in an impenetrable 

His secular name has nowhere been preserved. However, he 
seems to have been born in 1722 in the diocese of Samokov 
which included the celebrated Monastery of St. loan of Rilo, 
the most important monastery in western Bulgaria. He seems 


46 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

to have been educated in a typical kiliynaya school where he 
probably learned some Greek and little else, for he laments 
that he had learned "neither grammar nor politics." He may 
have spent some time at the Rilo Monastery but in 1745 he 
went to Mount Athos and became a monk in the Monastery 
of Khilandar (Chilandar), where his brother Lavrenti had al- 
ready preceded him. 

Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain, 2 was the center of Ortho- 
dox monasticism and of Orthodox learning at the time. It is 
a mountainous tip of the Peninsula of Chalcidice, almost cut 
off from the mainland on the north shore of the Aegean Sea 
and is renowned for its rugged scenery. Athos has had a re- 
markable history. In pre-Christian times it was a sanctuary of 
Zeus. Greek medieval tradition identified it with the "high 
mountain" on which Satan tempted Christ. Near it at Philippi 
St. Paul first preached on European soil. In the fourth and 
fifth centuries it was already the home of individual hermits 
and by the ninth century a monastic organization had taken 
shape. The Byzantine Emperors granted autonomy to the monas- 
teries and, like the later rulers of Orthodox countries, were 
benefactors and protectors of this monastic republic which 
served also as a refuge and place of retirement for statesmen 
and rulers who had wearied of their secular posts or been 
thrown from power and had sought shelter in monasticism. 

The republic consisted of twenty fortified monasteries. Among 
them were the famous Greek Lavra, the Serbo-Bulgarian Khi- 
landar (Chilandar) and Zographu and that of St. Panteleymon, 
and the Rossikon for the monks of the East Slavic peoples. The 
monasteries of this "Holy Land" had libraries, art collections 
and unique archives of Classical, Greek and Slavic manuscripts. 
The Latin Crusaders after the capture of Constantinople (1204) 
treated the monks rather brutally; they appealed to Pope In- 
nocent III and he took them under his protection but the 
monks later remained stoutly Orthodox. In the fourteenth cen- 
tury Athos was the center of Hesychasm, which even in the 
sixteenth century produced such a remarkable representative 
in Ukraine as Ivan Vyshensky (1550-1621). Because of the vol- 
untary submission of Athos to Sultan Murad II even before 

Father Paisi Khilandarski 47 

the capture of Constantinople, the Turks respected its autonomy 
and granted to this territory (which no woman was permitted 
to enter) the unique privilege in the Ottoman Empire of ring- 
ing church bells. In the eighteenth century the Academy of the 
Vatropedi Monastery was, for a time, a center of Greek learning. 
By tradition a common council of the leading monks ruled this 
territory and made all arrangements with the Sultan. Yet, despite 
this cooperation on the material plane, the monasteries had an 
ardent national consciousness. The monks disputed among them- 
selves on many questions of national pride and political tenden- 
cies and the repercussions of these discussions were felt far 
outside Athos. 

The founder of the Monastery of Khilandar was reputed to 
have been the first Serb ruler, Stefan Nemanya, who retired to 
it and died in the year 1200. His son, the Patron of Serbia, St. 
Sava, also lived there during much of his eventful life. Yet 
through the centuries and especially after the Turkish conquest 
it was filled with both Serbian and Bulgarian monks. 

Father Paisi, who had accepted monasticism there, used the 
opportunity to study among the rich collection of manuscripts 
that existed on the Holy Mount, apparently taking part in the 
frequent national disputes. He says himself that he was morti- 
fied to find that the Bulgarian monks had no records of the 
past of their nation. They were mocked in the discussions as 
mere peasants, shepherds and workmen and he decided to do 
something about it. 

In 1761 he was sent with a letter of recommendation to 
Karlovtsi in the Austrian dominions to receive for his monastery 
a bequest which had been left to it by the Karlovtsi Archbishop 
and Metropolitan Pavel Nenadovich. He was, according to 
this letter a prohegumen and a man of especial loyalty and zeal. 
He signed for the property May 21, 1761. His stay at Karlovtsi 
was very fruitful, for there he apparently became acquainted 
with the historical works of Mauro Orbini (died in Ragusa, 
1614, Regno delli Slavi, 1601) and of Caesar Baronius (Cardinal 
and librarian of the Vatican, 1538-1607), two historians who 
had written in Italian or Latin histories of the Slavs which 
had later been translated into Russian. 

48 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

At Mount Athos he could acquaint himself with the works 
of all the leading Byzantine historians and follow in detail the 
fortunes of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires. He speaks 
of Bulgarian histories, the Kormchaya Book, "Ruce and Mus- 
covite printed histories," a German history, Serbian books, Pro- 
logues, Lives of the Fathers, Admonitions of the Fathers, and 
imperial chrysobouli (the so-called "golden bulls"). Thus we 
have evidence that he was more or less familiar with the chief 
available sources for Bulgarian history. 

On his return to Mount Athos from Karlovtsi, he found the 
monks of Khilandar quarreling over a payment demanded by 
the Sultan. Paisi, unwilling to be involved and concerned with 
his great work, transferred to the Monastery of Zographu and 
in 1762, despite ill health, finished the work. 

Apparently he had no intention of allowing his manuscript 
to be buried in the archives of Mount Athos or any of its 
monasteries, for in 1765 he had the manuscript in Kotel where 
a young priest, Stoyko Vladislavov (later Bishop Sofroni), made 
a copy of it. We find another copy of the manuscript prepared 
in the diocese of Samokov, his native locale. In 1784 he met a 
Serbian archimandrite, Gerasim Zelich, in the city of Kareya, 
where he acted as interpreter in discussions with the Greeks 
and admitted that he hated the Greeks. This is the last reference 
to Father Paisi as a living man but apparently, after wandering 
around Bulgaria and leaving copies of his manuscript behind 
him, he returned to the Monastery of Zographu where he died 
at an unknown date late in the century. His manuscript was 
not printed until a revised version appeared in Budapest in 
1844 and even then his name was not connected with it until 
it was republished by the revolutionist Georgi Sava Rakovski in 
1869. At the present time about forty copies and revisions are 
known to exist. This speaks volumes for the energy with which 
Father Paisi carried out his self-appointed task of spreading a 
knowledge of their past before the Bulgarians of the eighteenth 

Father Paisi was not an objective historian in any sense of 
the word. He wrote for the patriotic purpose of making the 
Bulgarians conscious and proud of their past and he does not 

Father Paisi Khilandarski 49 

hesitate to express his personal feelings about Bulgaria's neigh- 
bors. His chief antipathy was for the Greeks who had used their 
imperial position in the past to wipe out the First Bulgarian 
Empire and who had profited by the Turkish conquest of 
Byzantium and the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire to im- 
pose their will upon the Bulgarian nation and to humiliate it 
psychologically, materially and ecclesiastically. Yet he does not 
hesitate to give his opinions about the Serbs whom he charges 
with misrepresenting the Bulgarians, although the latter had 
long controlled the Serbs. He attacks their early rulers for hav- 
ing been Latins. He condemns their Emperor Stefan Dushan 
(1333-1355) for his crimes and for having proclaimed himself 
tsar and for having worked against the Bulgarians. He likewise 
does not spare the Ruce (Ukrainians) and the Muscovites for 
boasting that they were the first Slavs to accept Christianity, 
although they had no proof of it. (This is apparently an allusion 
to the legend that St. Andrew the Apostle had preached on 
the site of Kiev.) Yet he is more restrained in his comments 
about the Ruce and Muscovites. 

Admitting that the Serbs in Austria and the Russians of his 
day had better education and were more enlightened than the 
Bulgarians, he attributes this to the fact that they had their 
national independence and church freedom which had given 
them opportunities to study. The Bulgarians, because of the 
Turkish political yoke and the Greek ecclesiastical control, lacked 
such opportunities. He also saw rightly that the reason for this 
was the relative nearness of the Bulgarians to the capital of 

In his discussion of the Ruce-Ukrainians and the Muscovites, 
there is a certain ambiguity. His use of old books showed him 
clearly the difference between the two nations. At the same 
time the newer help which was coming from St. Petersburg used 
the one word, "Russian," and we may doubt whether he un- 
derstood fully or even cared to understand the political events 
in eastern Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 

Paisi was not trying to write a history of the Slavs. He wanted 
to revivify the Bulgarians and he chose the best possible means 

50 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

for doing it under the conditions of the time, when illiteracy 
was nearly universal and political and cultural suppression was 
the order of the day. Aiming to adapt his style and subject 
matter to the needs of the moment, he produced a work which 
was eminently readable, if not altogether objective and historical. 

His language shows the same purpose. He wanted to write 
in the language of the people but there was little agreement 
regarding the forms that language would take. There was no 
written Bulgarian contemporary language except that which 
aped the language of the Church services. That was obviously 
archaic and unsuited for his purposes. At the same time, as 
a literate man, he had had to familiarize himself with the Serb 
and Russian writers and their varying styles. As a result the 
language of Paisi shows a groping for a written Bulgarian and 
it is easy to pick out phrases and expressions that have not 
stood the test of time or passed into the present colloquial or 
written speech. 

All this does not detract from the fact that Father Paisi, a 
humble monk of Mount Athos, had conceived the grand idea 
of restoring the Bulgarian nation to its past greatness by re- 
vivifying its consciousness of its historical continuity and linking 
it with its great past. To the best of his ability he cut through 
the stories of the recent past and raised a standard to which 
forward-looking Bulgarians could rally. His work was epoch- 
making and while he could not foresee the course of events 
in the near future, he did something that was extraordinary 
for his own time. He wrote and distributed a history that re- 
stored in ever increasing measure the Bulgarian self-respect and 
set into motion the revival of the Bulgarian nation. He included 
in their mental sphere possibilities for the future instead of 
dwelling only on the traditions of the past. In so doing he 
became the inspirer of modern Bulgaria and the father of mod- 
ern Bulgarian literature. Moreover, from the very beginning, 
as the title Slaveno-Bulgarian History shows, Father Paisi was 
aware that the Bulgarians belonged to Slavdom, to the culture of 
which Bulgaria had contributed so much and in defense of 
which Bulgaria had fallen victim to the Greeks and the Turks. 

In evaluating the work of Father Paisi Khilandarski, the first 

Father Paisi Khilandarski 51 

herald of the Bulgarian revival, we must not overlook some 
links connecting him with the previous period. The Damascenes 
of Joseph Bradati mentioned such subjects as the nation, the 
language, and Greek bondage but they spoke of these with an 
attitude of Christian resignation and without any active will 
to resist and fight. There were also some Bulgarian church 
books that had been printed as the Psalter (1562) and the 
Prayer Book (1570) by Yako Kraikof of Sofia in Venice and 
the Abagor Prayerbook (1641) of the Bulgarian Paulicians. There 
were two Bulgarian schools in Sofia in the sixteenth century and 
a theological seminary existed in the seventeenth century in 
the town of Chiprovets. We must not overlook the work of these 
earlier Bulgarians, but they did not include in their objects the 
reawakening of the Bulgarian national spirit. 

That was the purpose of Paisi's History. His work was a 
protest against and a blow to the imperial designs of the Greek 
Patriarchate in Constantinople with its dreams of the complete 
Hellenization of the Balkans. 

Paisi became the ideologist of the Bulgarian Renaissance and 
he clearly outlined its tasks, which were to bring about, through 
the revival of the Bulgarian National Church and the Bulgarian 
school, the revival of the Bulgarian State. Paisi was a fighter 
and he stirred the conscience of his fellow Bulgarians with his 
scathing rebuke: 

"O thou foolish and degenerate man, why art thou 
ashamed to call thyself a Bulgarian? Have not the Bulgar- 
ians had a Kingdom and Empire of their own? Why 
shouldest thou, O imprudent man, be ashamed of thy na- 
tion and shouldest labor in a foreign tongue?" 

By this and similar remarks, Paisi kindled the sense of Bul- 
garian self-assertion and self-respect and these qualities expanded 
in the revived Bulgarian nationalism. 


Educators and Revolutionists 

The seed sown by Father Paisi was very slow in germinating. 
It could not well be otherwise for his work circulated in only 
a few manuscript copies among an illiterate people. Those who 
were able to read, almost to a man preferred to read Greek, 
which was the language used by the Church and by the dominant 
Christians in the Ottoman Empire. As a result we find few 
reactions to Father Paisi's work during the next decades among 
the Hellenized leaders of the country. 

In the meantime the Turkish dynamism was exhausted and 
that fact was being recognized abroad. Even at the height of 
their power, the Turks had been unable to conquer the Slavic 
Christians living in Montenegro, the rugged area around Mount 
Lovchen in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, and this 
state under the heroic leadership of its Prince-Bishops remained 
a symbol of liberty through the entire Turkish period. It be- 
came an example and ideal for all victims of the Turkish op- 
pression and thus a herald of the disintegration of the Ottoman 

Meanwhile the pashas and the janissaries continued their 
unruly course. In 1804 they massacred a number of the leading 
Serbs and drove the rayah, the Christian peasants, to armed 
revolt. The peasants chose as their leader one Karageorge, a 
man who had been associated with the hayduk activities among 
the Serbs. To the surprise of all he proved himself a capable 
military leader. In a few years he set up an independent Serbian 
government in Belgrade. It is true that the Turks soon over- 
whelmed him and drove him into Hungary but it was not 
long before a more modest movement under Milosh Obrenovich 


Educators and Revolutionists 53 

secured for their leader recognition as the Supreme Prince of 
a small but autonomous state of Serbia. 

In the same period the young Greeks who had been edu- 
cated abroad returned with a consciousness of the events in 
America 1 and of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic 
struggle. They formed their own secret societies and soon the 
Turks became aware of the Greek danger to the Empire. When 
the Turks on March 25, 1821 (Annunciation Day), hung a 
number of Greek bishops, the Greeks rose in revolt. After years 
of struggle, publicized in Western Europe by the death of Lord 
Byron at Missolonghi in 1825, the Greeks succeeded in enlisting 
foreign aid. Soon after the allied fleets of Great Britain and 
Russia destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet at Navarino (1827), 
Greece entered the ranks of the European nations (1828). The 
Greek revolutionary movement was supported by some Hellen- 
ized Bulgarians and groups of Bulgarian patriots like Hadji 
Khristo with his cavalry and Hadji Stephcho with a body of 
infantry. One Bulgarian, Marko Bodjar, became a legendary 
hero among the Greeks under the name of Marko Bozzari. 

These events could not fail to affect the Bulgarians. It en- 
couraged many of the wealthier Bulgarians to renew their 
efforts to secure a Greek education and thus to some degree 
postponed the Bulgarian action which was sooner or later in- 
evitable as the influence of Father Paisi's work spread from 
the monks and clergy to the lay population. The class that was 
most responsive in a way was that of the Bulgarian emigrants: 
the Bulgarian merchants in the Danubian principalities, Mol- 
davia and Wallachia, the later Romania, and in the Bulgarian 
colonies along the north shore of the Black Sea in the Russian 
Empire. These emigres could not fail to become aware, through 
their daily contacts, of the ideas of the French Revolution and 
the movements that were agitating the whole of Europe. It 
was these merchants who began to send money home to establish 
schools in their own communities which tended to stress the 
use of the Bulgarian language rather than Greek. 

The first and most ardent disciple of Father Paisi was the 
young priest Stoyko Vladislavov (later to be Bishop Sofroni 
Vrachanski, of Vratsa). He was born in 1739 in the city of Kotel 

54 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

in northeastern Bulgaria and he became a priest in 1762, the 
year when the History was completed. It was only three years 
later when he secured a copy from Father Paisi, although we 
have no knowledge of the circumstances and no account of 
the meeting of the two men. Stoyko was impressed and to the 
end of his life he fought valiantly for the ideals expressed in 
the History. His life was one long martyrdom for he was con- 
stantly harried by the Turks and persecuted by the Greek 
hierarchy and the rich chorbadji who objected to his work for 
his poor compatriots. In 1794 he was consecrated Bishop of 
Vratsa, a poor and ruined diocese. Here he had no peace. He 
was forced to flee from one place of refuge to another and 
even for a time found shelter in a harem. He finally gave up 
the uneven struggle and in 1800 he went to Vidin on the Danube 
where he served as bishop for three years. Then in 1803 he 
succeeded in crossing the Danube and went to Bucharest where 
his grandsons were living. Here he was treated kindly by the 
Metropolitan and here he died in 1818. His last years were 
filled with efforts to secure Russian assistance for his people. 
In 1804 he sent two friends to St. Petersburg with letters from 
him attempting to interest Tsar Alexander I in the Bulgarian 
cause, but without results. 

He wrote copiously on religious subjects and one of his books, 
a Nedyelnik or Sermons for every Sunday in the year, came out 
in 1806 as the first printed book in modern Bulgarian. His main 
work was his autobiography, The Life and Sufferings of the 
Sinful Sofroni. It gives a vivid picture of the man and is the 
first book in Bulgarian to picture conditions in the country 
through the eyes of a Bulgarian. With no pretensions to literary 
style, Sofroni wrote in the simple Bulgarian of his day. Like 
Paisi he regretted and stated that he did not know the Church 
Slavic well enough to write it. Yet he was one of the first clergy 
to introduce into the services in his diocese Church Slavic in- 
stead of Greek and to use the books which had been sent by 
the Russian tsars. 

The impulse to the use of Bulgarian given by Father Paisi 
and Bishop Sofroni soon began to affect the laity. During the 
first half of the nineteenth century the leaders of the Bulgarian 

Educators and Revolutionists 55 

revival were lay educators who sought to make up for the long 
lag in Bulgarian education. The first of these men was Dr. 
Petar Beron who was born in 1793 also in Kotel where his 
wealthy father had built at his own expense the first school 
building in the Bulgarian lands. His father lost his money 
during the Russian-Turkish War and the young Petar went 
to Bucharest to study in a school kept by a Greek named 
Vardalachos. Petar supported himself by giving private lessons. 
In 1821 he went to Brashov in Transylvania as a private teacher 
for the children of a successful Bulgarian merchant, Anton 
Yovanovich. Beron prepared his own textbooks and Yovanovich 
published for him in 1824 a Bulgarian dictionary, the first of 
its kind, called the Fish Dictionary because of a fish on the 
cover. Yovanovich later sent Beron to Germany where he was 
graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1832. He returned to 
Bucharest. He soon gave up medicine for business and was so 
successful that in 1842 he practically retired and went to Paris 
to study the mathematical and physical sciences. In 1871 he 
returned to Romania for his last visit and there he was brutally 
murdered on his estate. He left all of his money for educational 
work in his native city of Kotel and in Odrin. 

Beron was the best-educated Bulgarian of his day and his 
activities had much to do with the introduction of lay schools 
into the country. His dictionary was the first to appear and in 
it as in all his writings he used the spoken Bulgarian of the 
time. He was also the first to object to corporal punishment 
in the schools and to advocate schools for girls. While he was 
not a devotee of belles-lettres, he laid the groundwork by his 
philosophical, educational and scientific works for the men who 
were to come after and undertake the art of writing for its 
own sake. 

Another of these wealthy Bulgarian emigres who did a great 
deal for the cause of education not only by the giving of money 
but by participation in the work was Vasil Aprilov. He was 
born in 1789 in Gabrovo, a small city fifty miles south of Tir- 
novo. His father died when he was ten years old and his brothers 
who were in business in Moscow took him there and placed 
him in a Greek family so that he could perfect himself in that 

56 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

language. Later he went with them to Brashov, Vienna and 
Constantinople but when he grew older he went to Odesa and 
started business there in 1811. In the next years he was an 
ardent Hellenophile and zealously supported the Greek struggle 
for independence. For a while he was a leader of the Greeks in 
Nizhyn in Ukraine, the city where Gogol (Hohol) attended 

Then in 1829 and 1830 he read the books of Yury Venelin, 2 
the most devoted friend of the Bulgarians at the time. Aprilov 
read his books attentively, corresponded with Venelin and soon 
became fired with the Bulgarian possibilities. Aprilov then 
threw himself wholeheartedly into the Bulgarian cause and 
in 1835 persuaded some of his associates in Odesa to join him 
in financing a school in his native city of Gabrovo. This be- 
came the first modern school in Bulgaria. Aprilov sought out 
the best-prepared teachers and the success of the school led 
to the opening of similar institutions in other parts of the 
Bulgarian lands. 

Aprilov not only contributed funds but he took an active 
part in writing and publishing books for his school. He stoutly 
defended the theory that the original language of SS. Cyril and 
Methodius was Bulgarian and not either Serb or Russian. He 
was a strict purist and protested against the introduction of 
Hellenisms into the modern language and also against the 
Russianisms which had been brought in through the Church 
Slavic books sent by the tsars to Bulgaria. Finally, following 
the example of the day, he published in 1841 the first collec- 
tion of Bulgarian folksongs. 

He was bitterly opposed to any revolutionary movement in 
Bulgaria but he sought instead to improve the condition of 
the Bulgarians within the Ottoman Empire. In his view this 
goal required the creation of an independent Bulgarian Ortho- 
dox Church. Therefore, he became a leader in the ecclesiastical 
struggle against the Patriarch which raged throughout the mid- 
dle of the century. He died in 1847, the first of the great bene- 
factors of Bulgarian education. 

Beron and Aprilov were both relatively rich men who worked 
abroad for the good of their people and tried to revive the 

Educators and Revolutionists 57 

Bulgarian cultural tradition by engrafting on it the achieve- 
ments of Western Europe and Russia. They stoutly defended 
the Bulgarian language but neither knew by personal experi- 
ence the difficulties of work within the country. In this respect 
they differed sharply from Neofit Rilski (of Rilo), a devout 
monk, who was at the same time the best teacher in Bulgaria 
with a broad practical experience of work in the field. 

Neofit, whose name as a layman was Nikola pope Petrov 
Benin, 3 was born in Bansko about 1793, where his father was 
a village priest. Despite his father's objections he became a 
monk in the Rilo Monastery and secured his education in the 
Greek schools in various places. He was first assigned as teacher 
in Samokov but most of his life was associated with the Rilo 
Monastery. Thanks to the influence of Aprilov, he was sent 
to study in Bucharest and when the Gabrovo school was 
opened, he was appointed one of the teachers and was often 
consulted by residents of other communities who wished to open 
modern schools. He disagreed on several points with Aprilov 
and finally left Gabrovo and continued his teaching in various 
other cities, in the Rilo Monastery, and finally in the Greek 
school on the island of Chalki in the sea of Marmora, the fore- 
most Orthodox institution of the day in the Ottoman Empire. 
He soon left there and returned to Rilo where he died in 1881. 

His nephews were in the service of Prince Milosh of Serbia 
and it was through them that he was able to publish his Bul- 
garian grammar in 1835 in Kraguyevats, Serbia. This was the 
most successful grammar of the time. It attracted considerable 
attention and proved a successful adjunct to his teaching. Despite 
some peculiarities and a tendency to rely upon the language of 
the Russian Church books, he was moderate in his position and 
was counted the foremost teacher of the day. He also translated 
the New Testament into Bulgarian for the British and Ameri- 
can Bible Societies. Neofit Rilski was wholly absorbed in his 
work, and it was largely due to him that so much progress was 
made in a relatively short time. 

He had little interest in things other than education. His 
only appearance outside of school work was on a mission to 
Constantinople to secure permission for the rebuilding of the 

58 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

church in the Rilo Monastery which had burned in 1833. He 
succeeded in this and the Rilo church was the first important 
building to be erected in Bulgaria in centuries. His career as 
a peaceful educator was markedly unlike that of Neofit Bozveli 
who was constantly engaged in a bitter struggle against the 

Neofit Bozveli was born in Kotel in 1783 and received his 
early education from Stoyko Vladislavov (not yet Bishop So- 
froni). Then he became a monk in the Monastery of Khilandar. 
In 1814 he was sent to the city of Svishtov where he remained 
for a quarter of a century as a priest and teacher. Yet his wider 
interests constantly drove him to interfere in public life and 
involved him in constant difficulties with the Greeks. In 1811, 
he published the first of his two dialogues, An Enlightened 
European. Later, in 1835, he published in Serbia a series of 
Bulgarian textbooks and then in 1844 his second dialogue, 
Mother Bulgaria. 

He paid dearly for his efforts to erect a Bulgarian Church in 
Constantinople. The Bulgarians tried to have him made Bishop 
of Tirnovo but failed. Nevertheless he was sent there in a minor 
capacity and engaged for years in bitter disputes with the Greek 
bishop. He was imprisoned in a Greek monastery on Athos for 
some years. He escaped and resumed the struggle and then was 
consecrated bishop by the Patriarch and kept by him in his 
official dwelling, the Phanar. He ran away and again was 
captured and imprisoned on the Holy Mountain where he died 
in 1848. 

His dialogues have real literary value despite their character 
as political tracts. In the first he pictures Mother Bulgaria as 
a desolate hermit in a cave on the River Yantra near Tirnovo 
with her half-dead son who bewails bitterly the suffering of his 
people. This is so great and so inhuman that the Enlightened 
European (from whom the dialogue takes its name) cannot 
believe in its reality. 

The second dialogue, Mother Bulgaria, is even more eloquent. 
Here Mother Bulgaria appeals to her son to know why things 
are as they are. The son laments his inability to tell the whole 

Educators and Revolutionists 59 

"I should need the heavens for paper, the seas for ink 
and the years of Methusaleh and summon forth from the 
poems of the God-inspired Tsar, the prophet David, the 
marvellous Homer, the admirable Vergil, the magical Ovid 
and the laments for Jerusalem of the prophet Jeremiah so 
that I could bring alive this death-dealing woe and def- 
initely show you, Mother, that conditions are like those of 
Jeremiah and you may see with him and learn sadly and 
piteously to mourn your children. They have lips and speak 
not, they have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear 
not, they endure more than the animals and why they do 
not dare to ask." 

He continues with impassioned eloquence to denounce the 
chorbadji, the Turks and the still more evil Greeks who were 
working in an underhanded way along with the Turks and 
poisoning all the thoughts of the people. He rises to real elo- 
quence in his denunciations and his ardent national feeling 
turns a political pamphlet into genuine literature. 

Neofit Bozveli was the last of the militant ecclesiastics and 
monks who played an outstanding role in the Bulgarian re- 
vival. By his day the movement had passed fully into the hands 
of the laity and the possibility of a secular struggle for inde- 
pendence or education had become so good that ambitious young 
men chose lay occupations rather than the limitations of a 
clerical career. The succession that had started with Father 
Paisi had now changed its shape and Neofit Bozveli was on 
the dividing line. 

The emphasis that these early men placed on education 
developed into a powerful movement for it appealed to the 
Bulgarian thirst for learning, an outstanding feature of the 
Bulgarian character. After the foundation of the school at Ga- 
brovo the movement spread rapidly and by the time that Bul- 
garia won its independence there were 1,892 Bulgarian schools 
(some 300 in Macedonia). This number was more than in Greece 
(1,468 schools in 1878) and Serbia (565 schools in 1885). The 
Bulgarians established three gymnasia (Bolgrad in Bessarabia, 
Gabrovo and Plovdiv). The young men then attended the 
Universities in Athens (where there was a Bulgarian Student 

60 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Association), Austria, Germany and especially Russia. These 
far-flung institutions became very popular because the Russian 
government, as well as the wealthy Bulgarian colonies, gave 
many scholarships to Bulgarian students. In this connection it 
was important that the Bulgarian students usually stayed in 
the south in Ukrainian territory between Odesa, Nizhyn, Kiev 
and Kharkiv. They were brought into contact with the renais- 
sance in Ukrainian literature and the rising Ukrainian nation- 
alism which offered many analogies to their own efforts. 

The educational movement was supported by the peasantry, 
which recovered economically after the Turkish reforms of 
1839, and by the guilds. It was supplemented by the Reading 
Room Associations (started in 1856), the Sunday Schools and 
the Women's Associations (after 1856). These were mostly led 
by the patriotic village schoolteachers who through their Teach- 
ers' Conferences took charge of the movement. Even some of 
the chorbadji began to found schools. This widespread effort 
has much in common with the development of the American 
system of education, based upon the efforts of the communities 
as a whole. 

During these decades, too, the number of printing presses 
multiplied both within and outside of Bulgaria. The presses 
at Salonika, Bolgrad, Belgrade, Bucharest, Vienna, Smyrna and 
Constantinople owe a great deal to the American Bible Society. 
In all between 1806 and 1875, despite the obstacles, the Bul- 
garians published at home and abroad some 800 books to fill 
the various needs of the nation. They also started a large num- 
ber of newspapers, although many had but a short life, espe- 
cially in the early days. 

The first Bulgarian newspaper was the work of Konstantin 
Fotinov (1800-1858). He spent the bulk of his adult life in 
Smyrna, Asia Minor, where he published in 1842 the first Bul- 
garian periodical Lyubosloviye (Love of the Word). This ap- 
peared more or less regularly and contained information of all 
kinds on Bulgaria and its past. It was printed on the same press 
that was used by the British Bible Society for the publication 
of a Bulgarian translation of the Bible. Fotinov himself worked 

Educators and Revolutionists 61 

on the Old Testament. The journal lasted only two years be- 
cause of financial difficulties. 

Fotinov's work was continued by Ivan Bogorov (1818-1892) 
who published the Bulgarian Eagle in Leipzig in 1845. He 
later transferred his activity to Constantinople where he achieved 
even more with his Constantinople News (Tsaregradski Vestnik, 
1848-1861). This publication touched all subjects except pol- 
itics, a topic too risky in the political situation of the time. 
Shortly before the Russian-Turkish War of 1877 Bogorov re- 
turned to Bulgaria and continued his activity there. He was 
often criticized by his compatriots for his theories, but his 
papers distributed much useful information to the people. His 
work found increasing respect after his death, when it was 
considered in the light of history. 

These "enlighteners" believed in evolution rather than revo- 
lution. They sharply dissociated their activities from those 
movements which aimed to disintegrate the Turkish Empire 
and the most that they did was to agitate for the creation of 
an independent Bulgarian Church within the Ottoman Empire, 
something that they finally obtained in 1872. Yet we must not 
underestimate their work. They changed the face of Bulgarian 
society, tore its culture away from the antiquated Greek models 
and Greek education and oriented it on the pattern of Odesa, 
Kiev, and Western Europe, especially Germany. They gave the 
Bulgarians pride in their past and confidence for the future. 
Naturally, at the present time in Communist Bulgaria their 
efforts are treated with disdain. Nevertheless, they had much 
to do with turning the amorphous mass known to Father Paisi 
and Bishop Sofroni into a people which, however crudely, 
were able to administer after liberation their own governmental 
institutions and to provide the nation's political leaders for 
the next period. 

The work of implanting dreams of political independence 
and of fighting for independence was not done by these men 
but by their opponents, the revolutionists, who objected to the 
limitations of their policy and called for armed revolt. The 
revolutionists all too often cast away their lives in futile gestures 

62 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

but they attracted the attention of the European countries, es- 
pecially Russia. They were imbued with the spirit of the old 
hayduks even though, in many cases, they had received some 
education and political knowledge and were guided by more 
than the spirit of elemental revolt. 

In a sense the oldest and perhaps the most typical of this 
group was Georgi Sava Rakovski who was born in 1821 in 
Kotel. Several of his uncles had distinguished themselves in the 
Russian-Turkish War of 1827 and had suffered for their Russo- 
phile sympathies at the hands of the Turks. After some pre- 
liminary education in his home city, Georgi was sent to Con- 
stantinople in 1837 and there in a Greek school he secured 
a good knowledge of Modern and Classical Greek, French and 
Latin. He joined a Macedonian Society formed by patriotic 
Bulgarians to plan a Macedonian uprising to coincide with a 
Greek revolt in Crete and Thessaly. The plan failed and Rakov- 
ski took refuge in Braila in 1841. His plotting there was ex- 
posed and the police finally caught him and sentenced him 
to death. Still, as he had a Greek passport, they consulted the 
Greek consulate, which sent him to Constantinople. Here the 
Greek Minister sent him secretly to Marseilles instead of to 
Athens. From France he returned to Kotel where he and his 
father were seized on the complaints of some envious chorbadji. 
The two were taken to Constantinople and held for three years 
in a Turkish prison. When Rakovski was released, he worked 
for a time as a lawyer in Constantinople and cooperated with 
Bogorov on the journal. The outbreak of the Crimean War 
roused him again to action and he joined the Turkish army 
with the intention of acting as a spy for the Russians. Next he 
found himself in Kotel and from there he escaped to Romania. 
In 1856 he was in Novi Sad, a Serb city under Austrian rule, 
where he edited a Serb journal, The Bulgarian Morning Star. 
This activity involved him in trouble with the Austrian au- 
thorities and so he made his way to Odesa in 1858. By 1860 
he was in Belgrade trying to form a Bulgarian legion to fight 
for Bulgaria in the Serb army. However, when Belgrade was 
freed of a Turkish garrison, the Serbs lost interest in the fight 
for the liberation of the Bulgarians and Rakovski went to 

Educators and Revolutionists 63 

Romania. He collected hayduk forces there but before they 
could cross into Bulgaria and start fighting, he died in Bucharest 
of tuberculosis in 1867. 

We have gone into some detail about Rakovski's life and 
activities because he was typical of the older circle of revolu- 
tionists who attempted to combine simultaneously with revo- 
lution some aspects of the work of the enlighteners. Rakovski 
wrote several poems such as The Herald and The Mountain 
Wanderer. In the latter work he describes a hayduk with his 
twelve followers drawn from different parts of Bulgaria. Each 
of them tells of the special hardships from which his own 
people are suffering. Then the leader talks with three old Bul- 
garians and, with a warning to his men to be heroic and fight 
for the liberation of their country, he leads them off into the 
mountains. Rakovski was in no sense a great poet but his songs 
struck the imagination and the hearts of his people. Thousands 
of young Bulgarians learned by heart The Mountain Wanderer, 
which inspired them for the struggle ahead. 

In addition Rakovski edited various Bulgarian journals in 
which he published historical documents that came into his 
hands; he wrote copiously on ethnology and folklore and did 
not fail to add to them many philological articles in which 
he pictured the Bulgarian language as the source of almost all 
others, often with a grotesque misinterpretation of known facts. 
Yet all his works had the object of making the Bulgarians con- 
scious of their past and of raising their national morale for 
the coming military conflict with the Turks and the campaign 
against the Greeks so as to secure from the Porte the foundation 
of an independent Bulgarian Church. 

Rakovski was a combination of hayduk and literary man. 
He was not typical either of the hayduks or of the mass of 
the writers who defended the cause of independence. The writ- 
ers' weapon was usually the pen. Such was Nayden Gerov (1821- 
1900) from Koprivshtitsa who during his long career as a teacher, 
Russian consul in Plovdiv and then as a scholar after the 
liberation worked steadily and almost exclusively in the literary 
field. He finally published the first large Bulgarian dictionary 
and many valuable articles on Bulgarian history. He is perhaps 

64 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

more important in literature as the first modern Bulgarian poet. 
While he was studying in Odesa at the Richelieu Lycee in 
1841 he wrote to his former teacher Neofit Rilski: 

"I have some fables and Bacchic songs and other works 
written in poetry. When they are finished, I shall publish 
them. I have used the tonic measures like the Russians." 

He enclosed a translation of Krylov's fable, The Eagle* the 
Crab and the Pike. His range of subjects was limited to love 
songs and revolutionary poems which did not appear in print. 
In 1845 he published a longer poem, Stoyan and Rada, a ro- 
mantic melancholy tale of two lovers in which the boy's mother 
will not give her consent to the marriage he desires but forces 
him into a marriage with a girl whom he does not love. The 
wedding never takes place for as the procession nears the 
church, Rada falls dead and Stoyan dies in despair on her 
body. It is a typical romantic tale and in some details reminds 
us not only of the general Slavic romanticism of the time but 
of prose stories like that of Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, 5 Marusia, 
which was of about the same period (1833). 

What Nayden Gerov did not succeed in accomplishing was 
brought into being by Petko Rachev Slaveykov, the foremost 
Bulgarian poet of the mid-century and one of Bulgaria's out- 
standing writers. Slaveykov was born in Tirnovo in 1827. His 
father, Racho Kazan djiyata, was very poor but he gave his 
son as good an education as he could in the Greek and kiliynaya 
schools. The boy's education, however, ended when he was 
sixteen. He at first thought of becoming a monk but his 
father advised against it and in 1842 let his son read a manu- 
script of Father Paisi. The boy then commenced to teach school 
in Tirnovo. At this time he wrote a satire in which he lam- 
pooned the Greek metropolitan. When the poem came to 
that dignitary's attention, Slaveykov was forced to flee. In the 
next years he taught all over Bulgaria, never able to remain 
long in any one place because of the hostility of the Turks 
and of the Greek hierarchy. During these years he continued to 
write verses but they were crude and undeveloped. Yet all the 
time he was learning to master the poetic art, and his natural 

Educators and Revolutionists 65 

gifts were ripening and developing. For a while he taught in 
Trevna, where he married. His troubles began again and he was 
forced to continue his wanderings. 

In 1852 he published in Bucharest three volumes of poems: 
a translation of Aesop's Fables, A Mixed Bouquet (Smesna 
Kitka), and a third volume of songs, satires, etc. to amuse the 
readers. In 1846 he had been given a copy of Galakhov's Rus- 
sian Chrestomathy and during the next years he used this 
zealously and not only familiarized himself with the devices 
of Russian poetry but made translations from Krylov, Pushkin 
and Lermontov. In 1855, through the influence of the Bulgarians 
in Odesa, the Russian Academy of Sciences published a volume 
of his Bulgarian Songs. 

Slaveykov's poems are filled with a pensive romanticism. At 
the same time he had a keen sense of realism and of the beauties 
of nature. As a result he introduced into Bulgarian literature 
for the first time an appreciation of the beauties of the Bulgarian 
landscape. His love of his native land led him to glorify the 
national past, and at one time he thought seriously of under- 
taking a long poem and incorporating into it the folksongs 
about King Marko. He gradually extended, chiefly through 
Russian translations, his knowledge of the western writers, es- 
pecially Goethe, and he put his knowledge to good use. His 
poems show his love and feeling for life even in his frequent 
satirical and ironic vein. It is to be noted that only later did 
he come to know the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, 6 and 
in his last years he made several free translations from Shev- 
chenko's poems for they appealed to his sense of national de- 
votion and idealistic realism. 

His Calendars for 1857 and 1861 were especially interesting. 
In these he provided for every day in the year some pithy 
saying which condemned the vices he saw in the Bulgarian 
life around him. At the same time he did not spare the op- 
pressors of his own people. Later he prepared still other cal- 
endars but they were not so biting or successful as his earlier 
attempts. Thus as he matured in his art, he maintained that same 
unflinching idealism and patriotism that grew out of his Chris- 
tian view of life. 

66 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

In 1864 Dr. Albert Long, a Protestant missionary in Bul- 
garia, induced Petko Slaveykov to go to Constantinople to work 
on a Bulgarian translation of the Bible which was to be pub- 
lished by the American Bible Society. He devoted himself to this 
task for several years and meanwhile took an active part in the 
struggle for the foundation of an independent Bulgarian Ortho- 
dox Church. In 1874 he was forced to leave Constantinople, 
and after a short stay in Odrin he went to Stara Zagora. 
During the Russian-Turkish War his house was burned, and 
he lost many of his manuscripts, including unpublished works 
and his large collection of folksongs. This was the worst tragedy 
of his life. After the liberation he continued to teach and write 
with still more maturity and freedom until his death in 1895. 

Throughout his long career Slaveykov constantly remained 
in touch with the Bulgarian people. His strong sense of reality 
kept him from indulging in ventures that did not answer the 
needs of the moment. He showed equally in his satires, his 
lyrics and his two journals, Hayda and Macedonia, which he 
published in Constantinople, his understanding of the feelings 
of his people. He remained to the end of his life one of their 
respected leaders in the fight for freedom and democracy. Lit- 
erally a home-grown product, though his style in later times 
seemed a little primitive to some of the more educated writers, 
we can say truthfully that he was in a real sense the first poet 
and man of letters to appear in modern Bulgaria, and many 
of his poems have not yet lost their charm. 

Of the other writers who were born about the same time as 
Slaveykov we must mention especially the two brothers Miladi- 
nov, Dimitar (1820-1862) and Konstantin (1830-1862), from 
Struga in Macedonia in the neighborhood of Lake Okhrida. 
Both men were teachers and both passed some time abroad, 
one in Austria and the other in Russia. Their great work was 
the publication of a large collection of Bulgarian folksongs 
which they succeeded in publishing with the aid of Bishop 
Josef Strossmayer, 7 the great Roman Catholic Bishop of Zagreb 
who took a lively interest in all the various Slavic peoples. 
The book was scarcely published when it was learned that 
Dimitar had been arrested and thrown into a Turkish prison 

Educators and Revolutionists 67 

in Constantinople. Konstantin returned to that city but he 
had barely arrived when he, too, was thrown into prison also 
on false charges. After a few months the two brothers died 
from the ill treatment which they had received. Their work 
remains as a monument to their industry and zeal. 

Although the struggle for an independent Church produced 
a great deal of literature, some of it with literary value, the 
outstanding man who was born in the thirties is undoubtedly 
Lyuben Karavelov, who first introduced into Bulgarian thinking 
the ideas of the Russian radical thinkers of the sixties. Karavelov 
was born in 1837 in Koprivshtitsa. After receiving his early 
education there, he went to Plovdiv and entered the Greek gym- 
nasium. He was repelled by the crudities of the city and the 
evil life that he saw around him. He stubbornly refused to 
enter business, as his father desired, and instead secured a posi- 
tion for a while in Constantinople. After the Crimean War he 
decided to go to Russia. In 1857 he passed through Odesa on 
his way to Moscow. There he soon fell under the influence 
and adopted the ideas of the Russian leaders of the sixties, the 
radical intelligentsia such as Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Dobrolyu- 
bov and Pisarev. He was for a while a free auditor in the Uni- 
versity of Moscow, and he there became acquainted with many 
of the Slavophile leaders such as Ivan S. Aksakov who encour- 
aged him to study the culture of other Slavic peoples. He was 
no less attracted to the new Ukrainian literature. He read the 
stories of N. V. Gogol (Hohol) and the poems of Taras Shev- 
chenko, but he was also especially attracted to the stories of 
a younger Ukrainian authoress, Marko Vovchok, 8 who pictured 
the hardships of the Ukrainian women under serfdom. These 
Ukrainian poems and stories had a special appeal for Kara- 
velov for they showed him that the Ukrainians in the Russian 
Empire were suffering in the same way as the Bulgarians had 
suffered under the Turks. It was under the influence of these 
Ukrainian writers that he began to write his stories of Bulgarian 

In 1861 he published in Moscow his first volume, written in 
Russian, Monuments of the National Life of the Bulgarians. 
He included in his book a series of 3,000 proverbs and legends 

68 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

and compared them with those of the other Slavic peoples. 
He showed his sympathy with some aspects of the Slavophile 
theories and in fact received 175 rubles toward the publication 
from Aksakov. However, he did not share the Slavophile politi- 
cal view. He next published in Russian in 1868 Pages from 
the Book of the Sufferings of the Bulgarian Race, including 
some of his best stories, such as The Turkish Pasha and Bul- 
garians of the Old Time, in which the influence of Marko 
Vovchok is very evident. 

Karavelov shared sincerely the ideas of the Russian Narodniki, 
or Populists, those thinkers who based all their hopes for a 
better social order on the peasants and tried to fit themselves 
into the peasant mode of life. Led into close contact with the 
revolutionary movement in Russia, after the attack by Karakozov 
on the life of Tsar Alexander II, he found it impossible to 
stay longer in the country, and in 1867 he went to Serbia. 

Relations between the Serbs and Bulgarians had cooled since 
the liberation of Belgrade, but Karavelov tried to apply the 
new ideas which he had absorbed in Russia and to revive the 
old sense of cooperation. He wrote copiously on literature and 
social ideas for the journal Zastava (The Banner). His radical 
views soon made it expedient for him to leave Belgrade for 
Novi Sad in 1868. Here he became the friend of the leading 
Serbian writers Svetozar Miletich and Zmay Yovan Yovanovich, 
and he even commenced an historical novel in Serbian. Written 
under the influence of Chernyshevsky and Herzen, this novel 
assailed the reactionary features of Serbian life and the failure 
to provide for the education and proper training of girls and 
women. He had an enormous influence on the young, but the 
critics did not take kindly to him. After the murder of Prince 
Michael Obrenovich, Karavelov was arrested on suspicion of 
being involved and was sent to Budapest where he was held 
for seven months. When he was released, he was hailed by 
both the Serbs and the Bulgarians as a national martyr. This 
strengthened his idea that he could unite the two peoples, an 
idea he held to the end of his life. 

Karavelov next transferred his activity to Bucharest. Here 
he became associated with the Bulgarian National Committee, 

Educators and Revolutionists 69 

which was cooperating with the Romanians. This cooperation 
again became less close after Romania secured its independence. 
Taking over much of the responsibility for the publication of 
the journal Svoboda (Freedom) and later of Nezavisimost (In- 
dependence), Karavelov energetically set to work to prepare a 
general uprising in Bulgaria by founding revolutionary com- 
mittees in the various towns and regions of the country. He 
accepted the views of Rakovski as to the way of preparing a 
revolt and worked strenuously, if not always practically, with 
Vasil Levski and the other hayduk leaders. He was joined in 
this work by Khristo Botev, who was eleven years younger, 
but as time went on, and especially after Levski had been be- 
trayed into the hands of the Turks and executed, Karavelov 
apparently began to doubt whether the path of armed revolu- 
tion would help the Bulgarians as much as an increased empha- 
sis upon cultural work. He was gradually forced from the 
position of head of the committee by Botev, who took his place. 
With the outbreak of the April Rebellion in 1876, Karavelov, 
more or less discredited by his former friends and associates, 
retired to Belgrade. With the Russian-Turkish War, his old 
ardor flamed up. He entered Bulgaria with the Russian troops 
and made his way to his birthplace, Koprivshtitsa. He soon 
went to Tirnovo and then to Ruse where he continued his 
educational work and edited the journal Znaniye (Knowledge) 
and there he died in 1879. 

Karavelov held a unique position in Bulgarian life. He was 
the first to spread in the Balkans the ideas of the Russian 
Narodniki and the revolutionists of the sixties. Yet his plans 
for a federation of all the Balkan Slavs are perhaps reminiscent 
of the ideas of Shevchenko and of the Ukrainian historian 
Mykola Kostomariv 9 in the Society of the United Slavs and 
the Brotherhood of SS. Cyril and Methodius. Karavelov's ideas 
certainly differ as sharply from the concepts of organization 
held by the Narodniki as they do from the Slavophile idea of 
the position of Russia in any organization of the Slavs. 

Karavelov was more of a writer on political and social themes 
than a man of belles-lettres, but his prose stories from Bulgarian 
life which reflect his own experiences are perhaps the first 

70 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

really successful pieces of imaginative prose in the language. 
He used these stories to stress his own ideas on the need for 
human brotherhood and the abolition of human inequality 
and oppression. He was the most impressive figure of the time, 
although his fame was much eclipsed by that of his one-time 
friend Botev. 

The first Bulgarian drama was written and produced by a 
man of Karavelov's generation, Dobri Voynikov. Voynikov was 
born in 1833 in Shumen, a Turkish garrison town, and edu- 
cated there. While he was at school, the Turks moved in about 
2,000 Polish and Hungarian emigres who had fought in the 
Hungarian War for Independence under Kossuth in 1849. 
The emigres stayed in Shumen for about a year. They gave 
the local population a new conception of life in Europe through 
their entertainments and social life. This had a great effect 
upon the young Dobri. He was then sent to a French school at 
Bebek-Constantinople, but his stay there was cut short in two 
years by the death of his benefactor. He returned to Shumen 
as a teacher, but he soon aroused the enmity of the chorbadji 
and was forced to leave. He next became a teacher in a Bul- 
garian school in Braila across the Danube, where he edited 
a journal Bulgarska Zora (The Bulgarian Dawn) from 1867 
to 1870. It was while he was teaching in Braila that he con- 
ceived the idea of introducing dramatic performances for the 
entire community, young and old. On January 29, 1866 he 
presented with local actors his own play, Voyvoda Stoyan, for 
the benefit of the school. Its success was so great that in April 
he prepared another play Princess Rayna, to collect funds for 
the famine victims in Moldavia. This was performed not only 
in Braila but also in Bucharest and Galatz. He followed this 
with comedies such as The Crooked Civilization. Voynikov ex- 
plained that his object was to cultivate the sense of beauty and 
of virtue in his audiences. For this reason he preferred the 
historical drama as a means of showing the great examples of 
the past and the comedy of manners as a vehicle for holding 
up to ridicule the vices and corruption of his own day. From 
this point of view his plays served their purpose, even though 
they are very weak by modern dramatic standards. After the 

Educators and Revolutionists 71 

liberation Voynikov was assigned as a teacher in a girl's school 
in Ruse. He was then transferred to be in charge of an orphan 
asylum near Tirnovo, but he died of typhus in 1878. 

His work as a dramatist was continued by Vasil Drumev who 
was also from Shumen and born in 1841, apparently of a family 
of Albanian origin. Drumev became a teacher but in 1858 
received a scholarship through the Bulgarian community in 
Odesa to study in the Odesa Orthodox Seminary. He had al- 
ready published in Constantinople some translations and an 
original story, The Unfortunate Family, which he had planned 
while yet in Shumen. All was going well, when he heard of 
Rakovski's Legion in Belgrade. He dropped his studies and 
went to Belgrade to join up, but he soon had trouble with 
Rakovski. When the Legion broke up, he returned to Odesa 
and succeeded in securing readmission to the Seminary. In 1865 
he completed the course and was then admitted to the Kiev 
Ecclesiastical Academy where a number of anti-Russian Ukrain- 
ians were studying. While he was a student in Kiev he com- 
pleted the drama, Ivanku, based on an episode in the Second 
Bulgarian Empire. In 1869 he returned to Shumen but soon 
went to Braila where he practically took charge of the affairs 
of a publishing company which issued a periodical and printed 
many historical documents like the Autobiography of Sofroni. 
He also became a teacher in the Bulgarian school in Braila. With 
the establishment of the Bulgarian Church, he was chosen 
bishop under the name Kliment Branitski. After the liberation 
he became Metropolitan of Tirnovo. Here he was involved 
in the troubles caused by the forced abdication of Prince Alex- 
ander I of Battenberg and the anti-Russian policy of Stambolov. 
These political complications were finally cleared up, but he 
was removed from a seat in the Bulgarian Holy Synod. He 
died in 1901. 

His dramas such as The Unfortunate Family and Scholars 
and Benefactors were somewhat artificial, but they contained 
very effective scenes, even if these were not too well con- 
nected and were poorly motivated. On the other hand like 
Voynikov, he drew, in Ivanku, vivid contrasts between the 
Asens, especially Petar and the Pretender Ivanku, and he aimed 

72 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

to give various pictures of the way in which the Byzantine in- 
fluence was exerted to create discords in the Bulgarian state. 
The play was fairly successful. 

During this pre-liberation period the Bulgarian national move- 
ment had won its main success in the ecclesiastical field, for it 
secured the creation of an autonomous Bulgarian Orthodox 
Church. The Bulgarian patriots had fought for this against 
Greek opposition for forty years in their efforts to retain full 
control of the Bulgarian dioceses. When they secured from the 
Pope the right to establish a Bulgarian Church, Russia urged 
the Sultan to grant Bulgaria in a firman (a Sultan's order) a 
Bulgarian Orthodox Exarchate to have jurisdiction over the 
fifteen Bulgarian dioceses. The Sultan did this on February 
28, 1870, but when the Exarch was elected and appeared in 
Constantinople in 1872, he and his followers, i.e., the entire 
Bulgarian Orthodox Church, were excommunicated by the 
Patriarch. This excommunication was not practically recognized 
either by the Russian or Serbian Churches and was accepted 
only by the Orthodox Church of Greece. The result was that 
the Bulgarian Church finally resumed the control of its own 
affairs despite the remonstrances of the Patriarch and was 
able from then on to play its role in the Bulgarian revival, and 
the note of Greek ecclesiastical tyranny more or less disappeared 
as a leading theme in literature. 

At the same time the writers of the pre-liberation period were 
steadily improving. They were forging a literary language, they 
were broadening the themes that they treated, and they were 
improving their handling of these themes. Many of them were 
still stumbling, but on the very eve of the liberation a real 
master put in an appearance. That man was Khristo Botev, 
who dominated Bulgarian life and literature from his first 
appearance upon the scene. 


Khristo Botev 

Khristo Botev was the dominant figure in Bulgarian life 
and thought during the years immediately preceding the liber- 
ation. He was the first Bulgarian poet of undisputed literary 
talent and his twenty-two short poems are almost all among 
the classics of Bulgarian literature. As a man he was equally 
striking. He was a colorful figure in the Bulgarian struggle for 
independence; his heroic death on a desolate Balkan hilltop 
in 1876 made him a real martyr in the eyes of his fellow coun- 
trymen and assured him immortality. 

Botev was born on Christmas Day, 1848, in the village of 
Kalofer in the foothills of the Stara Planina. He grew up in 
the shadow of the mountains with their living tradition of the 
brave deeds and adventurous life of the hayduks. From his 
earliest youth he could see the difference between the majesty 
and freedom of the mountains and of the men who dared to 
live in them and the miserable lives of the downtrodden popu- 
lation of the villages. His father was a village teacher who 
had studied in Odesa and was a leader not only in education 
but in all community affairs. His mother, too, seems to have 
been an outstanding woman with a large repertoire of folk- 
songs. In this atmosphere the boy completed the three classes 
of the gymnasium in Kalofer. 

When he was fifteen, his father sent him to Odesa where 
he studied in a gymnasium for two years. He was desperately 
poor and could not afford even the school uniform. In his 
first year he was successful in his studies but apparently lost 
interest, and in the middle of the third year he was "excluded" 
or perhaps withdrew voluntarily. He revolted against the rigid 
discipline and the barbaric treatment of the students by the 
teachers, whom he called "animals" in a letter to his father. 


74 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

At the same time he was attracted by the Polish colony in 
Odesa, which was bitterly opposed to the Russian autocratic 
regime, and by the nascent Ukrainian movement which made 
him familiar with the leading authors in Ukrainian. Botev 
became infected with the stormy Romanticism of the day in the 
works of Byron, Pushkin, and Lermontov and with the revolu- 
tionary enthusiasm of Garibaldi and Bakunin. He also eagerly 
drank in the ideas of the Russian radical intelligentsia, Dobro- 
lyubov, Pisarev and Chernyshevsky, and of the narodniki gen- 
erally, as they sought to identify themselves with the peasant 
masses. At the end of 1865 he received from the Bulgarian 
community in Odesa fifty rubles and returned to Kalofer some- 
time in early 1867. 

Here he felt himself in an alien and uncomfortable environ- 
ment. His father had been taken sick and his mother was 
compelled to work to support the family. His parents could 
not look at him with favor for he had not finished the course 
and could not secure steady employment. Worse than that, the 
young man did not hesitate to condemn many teachers as 
harmful to the people. He denounced the efforts to create an 
independent Bulgarian Church as an effort to bring upon the 
people a new slavery and a new tyranny. On occasion and 
without occasion he inveighed against the life and ideals of 
the village as he saw them, all the while looking for a new 
order. He found only one sympathetic spirit, a young teacher, 
Parashkeva Shushulova, with whom he fell in love. Circum- 
stances, as we learn from his poems to her, prevented marriage. 

It soon became a question of removing the young firebrand 
from the village, lest he bring down upon the people the 
vengeance of the Turks for his attacks upon them and the 
Greek clergy. Efforts were made to have him readmitted to 
the gymnasium in Odesa and to have him return there in the 
autumn of 1867. Taking the funds given him for that purpose, 
he made his way instead to Sliven, Kotel, Tirnovo and Ruse 
and crossed the Danube to Gyurgevo to join the revolutionists 
in Braila in Romania. 

For a while he worked in a printing house in Braila, and 
then he went to Bucharest to study medicine. He soon gave 

Khristo Botev 75 

that up and returned to Braila to join one of the groups of 
armed men who were crossing the Danube to fight the Turks. 
The group was destroyed before he could make final arrange- 
ments to join it. He met Karavelov and also the Russian revo- 
lutionist, Sergey Nechayev, who was a pupil of Michael A. 
Bakunin. He accepted wholeheartedly the ideas of the Russian 
revolutionists and dreamed of establishing a center for smug- 
gling illegal literature into Russia as well as Bulgaria. In a 
word Botev became part of the international revolutionary 
movement of the time. He published a journal, The Word of 
the Bulgarian Emigre, so lacking in appeal that only five num- 
bers appeared. However, these five issues contained some of 
his best poems. 

In the winter of 1872-3 he went to Bucharest and brought 
there his mother and brother (his father was already dead). 
He married a widow and although he was hard put to it to 
earn enough money to support her and his mother and brother, 
he did not stop for a moment his revolutionary activity. He 
took an active part in the journals of Karavelov, until the 
latter became discouraged with revolutionary work. Then he 
published his own organ, Zname (The Flag). He succeeded 
Karavelov as the head of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Commit- 
tee but became discouraged at the failure of his enterprise and 
resigned without taking part in a new committee established 
in Gyurgevo. 

In the course of 1876 Botev's name was proposed as the head 
of an expedition prepared to invade Bulgaria. The expedition 
was already organized but the original leader, Filip Totyu, had 
resigned because he was refused his demand for 1,000 napoleons 
to provide for his family if he were killed. Botev willingly 
consented to take his place and made his plans accordingly. 

During the month of May the little company of men sepa- 
rated into still smaller groups and scattered to various points 
along the Danube. Then by prearranged agreement they board- 
ed in different ports the river steamship, Radetski, in the guise 
of gardeners going to work at Kladovo. On the appointed day 
these separated groups which had passed unnoticed on the 
steamer suddenly threw off their disguise and with arms in 

76 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

their hands took command of the ship. They compelled the 
captain to steer for the Bulgarian side of the river and land 
them in Kozloduy on May 17, 1876. Then everything began 
to go wrong. The company expected reinforcements but, except 
for a few men from Vratsa, no one appeared. The next day 
the detachment moved to Borovan. Here they had the promise 
that they would be joined by 400 men. No one appeared. Worse 
than that, none of the inhabitants would give them any sup- 
plies, not even water. On the 19th, they reached the desolate 
and barren hill of Vola. Botev was discouraged especially when 
a Bulgarian shepherd demanded pay for some sheep that the 
men had killed and eaten. On Vola they were surrounded by 
a large Turkish force with two mountain guns. 

The battle lasted all day and the Bulgarians repulsed the 
Turks with no losses to themselves. Towards evening, some 
of the men left their posts to secure water from a spring. 
Botev and his staff discussed the question of whether to con- 
tinue this unequal battle without support or to try to cut their 
way to safety in Serbia. Just as Botev stood up to see if any new 
danger was threatening, a rifle bullet struck him in the heart 
and killed him instantly. The little force, staggered by this 
new misfortune, stripped his body of all identifying marks and 
left it behind while they sought their own safety. So ended 
the career of Bulgaria's great poet. 

Botev was primarily a lyric poet of the Romantic and revo- 
lutionary school. The great feature of his work was his com- 
plete identification of his personal and social moods. From his 
early poems written in Odesa, such as The Hayduks and Father 
and Son, to the end of his career he identified himself with 
the people's cause. He made common cause with the hayduks 
in their death struggle for liberty against the chorbadji, who 
held them in financial bondage and mercilessly squeezed the 
last cent out of the people, and against the Turks and the 
Greeks, each of whom added their own exactions. To him the 
life of a hayduk engaged in constant struggle was the ideal 
life. He felt that the young hayduk who went into the moun- 
tains with his father, despite the tears and lamentations of his 
mother, had made the correct choice and the only one worthy 

Khristo Botev 77 

of an honest and patriotic Bulgarian. Botev's own end shows 
his sincerity. We see it again in his ode on the execution of 
Vasil Levski, in which all nature mourns with Mother Bulgaria, 
and in Hadji Dimitar, when there came a rumor that the 
daring raider was wounded but alive somewhere in the moun- 
tains. We find it in many other poems, even in the one en- 
titled To My First Love, which expresses the idea that love for 
a woman, no matter how passionate, cannot satisfy unless it 
is inextricably linked with the national cause. 

A similar thought appears also in those masterpieces to his 
mother, On Parting and To My Mother. Into these intimate 
expressions of the closeness of mother and son there drifts al- 
most imperceptibly the thought of the great mother, Mother 
Bulgaria, and it is hard to know where the personal emotions 
of the man and his views of his political and national mission 
merge in a greater synthesis. 

He handles nature in the same way. Botev was very sensitive 
to natural beauty and to the charm of the Bulgarian mountains 
but even in his nature poems it is not only the majestic calm and 
peace of the mountain scenery that stirs him. The mountains 
are the home and refuge of the hayduks; their majesty re- 
minds him of the brave and unselfish patriots who are living 
among them that Bulgaria may become free. 

A special place in Botev's work must be devoted to his satire. 
With deftness and bitterness, he uses this weapon, as in The 
Patriot, to castigate those men who talk of liberty and right 
but who refuse to sacrifice their own lives and comfort to 
make those great words realities in the land. His methods are 
in many cases those of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko 
who ran the entire scale in his denunciation of the evils of 
Russian rule in Ukraine, although Botev had what Shevchenko 
did not have, a burning desire to sacrifice his life on the battle- 
field for his people. Equally patriotic, Shevchenko, who suf- 
fered for years as a soldier in a tsarist corrective battalion, 
never had the inspiration to be a soldier and to stand the 
actual hardships of battle for the Ukrainian cause. 

Botev had the same view of religion as Shevchenko and for 
the same reason: bitterness against the hierarchy of an alien 

78 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

race. Yet Botev went further in denouncing the movement for 
a Bulgarian Church. He was violently anti-clerical, not so 
much anti-religious, as he shows in My Prayer in which he 
repudiates the old conception of a merciless God seeking out 
ways to punish men without administering justice to the per- 
secutors of the common people, whose cause Botev had made 
his own. 

Botev's poems appeared first in the various journals with 
which he was connected. They did not attract much attention. 
Even when he republished many of them in book form in 1875 
along with the poems of his friend Stefan Stambolov under 
the title Poems and Songs of Botev and Stambolov, the critics 
paid little or no attention, though they should have seen the 
difference in the poetic quality of the works of the two men. 
The Bulgarians at home had little chance of knowing these 
works during Botev's lifetime. The Bulgarian emigres in Russia 
and Romania were largely rich merchants and even the most 
ardent patriots among them were not interested in literature 
as such. They were busy with their own affairs and had not 
developed the idea of doing other things for Bulgaria than 
building schools in their native cities and giving some small 
aid to Bulgarian students in Russia and other countries. Yet 
no sooner had Botev attracted attention by his heroic death, 
than the Bulgarians awoke to the fact that he had been a 
great poet and a real star in the Bulgarian sky. 

The Communists have greatly overstressed Botev's depend- 
ence upon Russian literature and his Russian teachers. There 
can be no question that he had a wide acquaintance with the 
Romantic poets, Pushkin and Lermontov and with the Russian 
narodniki and the radical intelligentsia of the sixties. Like the 
other Bulgarians who lived in the south, he was in deep sym- 
pathy with Ukrainian writers like Gogol (Hohol), Shevchenko, 
Kostomariv and Kvitka-Osnovyanenko. They spoke to him of 
another people that was, like the Bulgarians, fighting to have 
its culture recognized and to win its own human rights. Yet, 
above all, Botev drew his inspiration from Bulgarian sources 
and Bulgarian folklore. His past was rooted in that Bulgarian 
past which was both sad and glorious. He knew the Bulgarian 

Khristo Botev 79 

legends and folksongs, and more than once he used the form 
of the traditional hayduk songs in his own works. As has been 
said of Shevchenko, he was a man who was able to compose 
folksongs because their spirit had so permeated his that he 
could play with their motifs without breaking the natural 
harmony and in a mysterious way he was the flowering of the 
traditional Bulgarian peasant culture and creativity. 

Botev's prose (and he made his living as a practicing jour- 
nalist) is but a commentary on his poetry and his life. He wrote 
only to advance the cause of Bulgaria. His works are filled with 
denunciations of those whom he regarded as the enemies of his 
people, the chorbadji, the Turks, the priests, the Greeks, and 
above all the enlighteners, all those teachers and thinkers who 
expected that education and education alone would bring the 
Bulgarians out of their oppressed state and who believed that 
sometime in the future the Ottoman Empire would be reformed 
and modernized and give a tolerable life to the Bulgarians. 
With these ideas in his mind, he followed events in Europe, 
and with sharp and often satirical pen he condemned those 
countries which seemed to be supporting at any given moment 
the Turkish position. At the same time he welcomed all those 
revolutionary leaders who were striving to break down the 
power of class and prejudice in Europe as a whole. He saw 
the world from the point of view of Bulgaria, for which he was 
ready to lay down his life. 

It was this call to revolt, this glorification of the fighter for 
freedom that was the dominating message in Botev's short but 
active life. It gave added weight to all that he did. It colored 
every moment of his life, every word that he wrote and it 
showed that his final venture into his native land was not a 
momentary whim but the culmination of all for which he had 
lived and worked. How would he have fitted into a free and 
independent Bulgaria? No one knows, but from the day he died 
on that desolate Balkan hilltop, the Bulgarians discovered what 
they had lost. His fame is secure and his poems have been 
read, loved and memorized by generation after generation of 
Bulgarians in all walks of life and of all social classes and 
political orientations. 


Ivan Vazov 

If Botev flashed out like a meteor to dominate the Bulgarian 
literary scene for the few years before the liberation of the 
country, Ivan Vazov rose slowly to prominence and maintained 
an almost undisputed leadership as Bulgaria's foremost literary 
figure for the half century after the liberation. Critics in the 
early twentieth century might regard him as old-fashioned and 
limited, but he went on his way serenely, secure of his audience, 
the Bulgarian people. He also became the first Bulgarian author 
to have his works translated and thus made known abroad. 

To understand the position of Vazov, we must view him 
against the changing background of a free Bulgaria, for in the 
years between the flowering of Botev and of Vazov, the Bul- 
garians had recovered their ancient freedom and were masters 
in their own house. 

This independence was secured at a heavy price. The estab- 
lishment of an independent Bulgarian Orthodox Church, un- 
connected as it was with social and political reforms, had not 
satisfied the Bulgarians as the Turks had expected. The demand 
for independence, fanned by Botev and the revolutionists, sound- 
ed louder and louder and was backed by the invasion of the 
country by armed detachments formed in Romania to liberate 
the country. In April, 1876, a widespread revolt broke out in 
Koprivshtitsa and found echoes north of the Balkan Mountains. 
The Turks, suppressing this organized movement (the April 
Uprising) with little trouble, then adopted a policy of terror 
and launched a series of massacres in areas which they supposed 
might become disaffected. 

These massacres touched off the final spark, for they em- 
braced the population of entire villages and offered the means 


Ivan Vazov 81 

for awakening the conscience of Europe, as nothing else would 
have done. Naturally, the Russian ambassador in Constantinople, 
Count Nikolay Ignatyev, exploited the situation as well as he 
could. At the same time Dr. George Washburn, 1 the President 
of Robert College in Constantinople, and Dr. Albert L. Long, 
the Vice-President and one of the inspirers of the Bulgarian 
translation of the Bible for the American Bible Society, both 
became aroused. They induced Eugene Schuyler, the American 
Consul in Constantinople and Mr. G. A. McGahan, an Ameri- 
can journalist of Irish extraction and the representative of the 
New York Herald in Constantinople, to visit the disturbed area 
and to make reports. 

McGahan, publishing his accounts of the massacres in the 
Herald and in the London Daily News, wrote: 

"In England and in Europe in general people have a very 
wrong opinion of the Bulgarians. I have always learned, 
and to be frank, I myself until recently believed that they 
were savages no superior in point of civilization to the 
American Indians; you can conceive my amazement, how- 
ever, when I discovered that almost every Bulgarian village 
had its school, and those that escaped destruction were in 
a flourishing shape. They are being maintained by a vol- 
untary tax, without any (Turkish) government encourage- 
ment, but on the contrary, in spite of innumerable obstacles 
created by the very state authorities. Tuition in the schools 
is free, education is equally available both to rich and poor. 
It would be difficult to find a single Bulgarian child who 
cannot read and write. In general, the percentage of liter- 
acy in Bulgaria is not smaller than that existing in England 
or France." 2 

The reports of Schuyler and McGahan shocked the world 
and furnished the basis for the action taken by William E. 
Gladstone in the British House of Commons. 3 The outburst 
of public indignation stifled for the moment any pro-Turkish 
feelings and left Tsar Alexander II free to intervene on behalf 
of the Bulgarians. 

A few months later Serbia with the tacit approval of Russia 
declared war on Turkey and 2,000 Bulgarian volunteers joined 

82 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

the Serbian army. Early in 1877 Russia, too, declared war and 
a Russian army, largely mobilized in the south from Ukrainians, 
invaded Turkey. They were joined by the Bulgarian masses 
who distinguished themselves in battles at Stara Zagora and 
at Shipka. Then, as the Russian forces advanced on Constanti- 
nople, Turkey sued for peace and, at Russia's insistance, by the 
Treaty of San Stefano (1878) recognized the independence of 
Bulgaria with boundaries satisfying most of the Bulgarian am- 
bitions, except for the Dobrudja which Russia gave to Romania 
as compensation for her own occupation of Bessarabia. This 
triumph of Russian arms and diplomacy revived European 
jealousies, and a congress of great powers met in Berlin a few 
months later. The treaty drawn up there gave much more 
unfavorable terms to Bulgaria, because the powers feared that 
Bulgaria, thus liberated, would become merely a Russian colony. 
The boundaries of Bulgaria were greatly reduced and Bulgaria 
was recognized merely as an independent principality under 
Turkish sovereignty. The eastern part of the country with its 
capital at Plovdiv was formed into an autonomous province of 
Turkey under the name Eastern Rumelia. A democratic con- 
stitution was drawn up at Tirnovo for the principality which 
elected as its ruler Prince Alexander of Battenberg, a nephew 
of Tsar Alexander II (1879). However, the Russians behaved 
as if they were the rulers of the country. The Russian generals 
suspended the constitution, set up the Prince as dictator and 
antagonized all the Bulgarian liberals. 

After the death of Alexander II, Prince Alexander restored 
the constitution and, in so doing, antagonized the Russians 
and their conservative partisans. Prince Alexander, backed by 
the liberals, favored the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia 
and, without consulting Russia, brought about this union in 
1885. Russia then induced Serbia to attack Bulgaria. The Bul- 
garian armies won a surprising victory, and in the Treaty of 
Bucharest, which ended the war, the Prince received the right 
to appoint the governor of Eastern Rumelia and to unify its 
administration and army with that of Bulgaria. 

Disturbed by this new development, Russia organized a con- 
spiracy among the pro-Russian Bulgarians and Russian officers, 

Ivan Vazov 83 

who kidnapped the Prince, compelled him to sign an act of 
abdication and hustled him out of the country. Their triumph 
was shortlived, for a counter-revolution of the Liberals restored 
him to power. However, the Prince had had enough. He resigned 
again, this time of his own accord. Russia then submitted its 
own candidate, a Russian general, but the Bulgarians finally 
chose Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1861-1929), who was 
related to the dynasties of Great Britain and Belgium. In spite 
of all Russian intrigues, Ferdinand became Prince of a united 
Bulgaria in 1887. Primarily conservative in his views, he finally 
made peace with Russia but without burning his bridges behind 
him. After the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and 
Hercegovina in 1908, he seized the opportunity to throw off 
the nominal Turkish sovereignty and restored to the Bulgarian 
people their long lost complete independence and established 
the Third Bulgarian State. 

It was during this period of storm and stress and gradual 
stabilization of the Bulgarian political, economic and cultural 
life that Vazov did his work. The period called for literature 
of a type very different from that of the tumultuous days before 
the liberation; the country faced problems of a different char- 
acter, and it was Vazov who gave the predominant tone to the 
literature of the next years. 

Ivan Vazov was born in Sopot in 1850. He was less than 
two years younger than Botev, and yet the two men were en- 
tirely different. Botev was a born rebel and revolutionist, im- 
patient of all restraint. Vazov was inclined to be a conservative 
and to reconcile himself with reality, even though that reality 
did not harmonize completely with his ideals. His father was 
a fairly well-to-do chorbadji and trader, not too educated or 
interested in education but his mother was a sensitive and ar- 
tistic woman who encouraged her son's literary tastes. His father 
sent the young Ivan to school in Sopot and then, so that he 
could learn Greek and Turkish for commercial purposes, to 
the Plovdiv diocesan school, where the boy became acquainted 
with French literature and the works of Slaveykov. Much to 
his father's disgust, he began to write poetry, empty songs of 
love and nature. 

84 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

In 1870 Vazov was sent to an uncle in Romania to learn 
business. He found occasion to visit Bucharest, Braila and 
Galatz. In Galatz he came into contact with the circle of Kara- 
velov and Botev, who instilled in him an ardent Bulgarian 
patriotism. From this moment he became more serious and his 
real poetical talents began to develop. On his way back to 
Bulgaria in 1872, he met Slaveykov in Constantinople. Soon 
after, he wrote one of his better known poems, The Pine Tree. 
He taught for a while in Svilengrad, but in 1874 he was back 
in Sopot. Caught up in the wave of revolution, he was forced 
to flee after the failure of the April Uprising, and he was 
roused to indignation by the savage repression of the move- 
ment. Among the victims was his own father. 

After the liberation, he held small political posts under 
Gerov and then in Ruse. He was transferred several times and 
finally in 1880 went to Plovdiv, the capital of Eastern Rumelia, 
where political and cultural life was much freer than in Sofia. 
He became a deputy and the president of a publishing house. 
He edited several newspapers and journals in which he secured 
the cooperation of the best writers of the time. In 1884 along 
with Konstantin Velichkov he published the first anthology 
of Bulgarian literature. All the time he was actively writing 
poetry and prose, developing his art, and satirizing and con- 
demning the ignorance of many of the uneducated and almost 
illiterate administrators. In his writings he attacked the ex- 
cessive growth of party feuds which threatened the integrity and 
the security of the new regime. 

After the fall of Prince Alexander of Battenberg, Vazov had 
to flee to Russia to escape the vengeance of the new political 
leaders on all who had sided with the Prince and were in any 
way pro-Russian. There in Odesa he wrote the greater part 
of Under the Yoke, his most successful novel. He visited Moscow 
and St. Petersburg, returning in 1889 to Bulgaria and settling 
in Sofia, which had by then become the capital of the new 
combined Bulgaria. There he remained to the end of his life. 
His popularity as a writer rose higher and higher. He con- 
demned the spread of radical ideas of a populist character, 
especially among the teachers, and as a conservative he called 

Ivan Vazov 85 

for really constructive work. His conservatism gained him ene- 
mies but did not harm his success as a writer. For a while he served 
as Minister of Education. His decisions and policies as Minister 
involved him in more difficulties with the teachers and the 
other leaders who wanted to introduce into the schools principles 
of life and administration which he considered unsound. 

When the government decided at the turn of the century to 
support a policy for the liberation of Macedonia, Vazov was in 
enthusiastic accord. This led him into his long series of books 
and poems on the past of Bulgaria. It also insured him recog- 
nition as the Bulgarian writer par excellence, and for many 
years he was the only Bulgarian literary man who was able 
to make his entire living by his pen. His historical works in 
various genres prepared the people for the Balkan Wars (which 
at one time seemed to promise so much, yet ended fatally) and 
for the still more disastrous entrance of Bulgaria into World 
War I on the side of the Central Powers. After the defeat, he 
was the only writer who ventured to express in verse the Bul- 
garian feelings of the moment and the sorrow that filled the 
heart of every patriotic Bulgarian. He died less than a year 
after the national jubilee which marked his seventieth birthday 
in 1920. His death was an occasion of national mourning, and 
his house in Sofia was turned into a museum. 

How different this long and relatively uneventful life was 
from that of Botev who died at an age when Vazov had not 
yet become famous. Yet there is no Bulgarian writer who has 
so fully expressed all the facets of the Bulgarian land, nature, 
and people over such a long period. A romanticist by nature, 
he felt a deep obligation to his people to work steadily and 
consistently with his pen to make them worthy and conscious 
of their own past and their contemporary position in the world. 

It is very hard to classify Vazov's work or to identify him 
with any school of writing, for he painted the virtues and the 
vices of the Bulgarian people without resorting to panegyrics 
or whitewashing their vices and at the same time without over- 
stressing the negative elements as did many writers of the natural- 
istic school. He equally avoided the extremes of the Symbolists 
of the next generation. He simply wrote of his country as he 

86 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

knew and loved her, and the people, in return, read his works, 
even though some of the younger critics tried to deride his 
influence and ideas and regarded him as hopelessly outmoded. 
Today the Bulgarian Communists either condemn him for his 
failure to maintain the revolutionary fervor of his younger 
days and his attempts to give Bulgaria a conservative and solid 
government or they treat only those works which can be made 
to serve their purposes. So far as they can, they ignore some of 
his best works, the writings of his mature years, which conflict 
with their ideas. 

In this regard they are following the example of the Russian 
Communist opinion of Vazov. In the Literaturnaya Entsiklope- 
diya, Vol. II, pp. 73-74, we have the judgment of Moscow before 
World War II in the following passage: 

"Vazov served the bourgeoisie more faithfully than any 
other of the poets and writers of Bulgaria. During the Balkan 
imperialistic war, the priest of Apollo changed into a vulgar 
chauvinist. The grateful bourgeoisie rewarded him for it 
with the name of a national poet. 

"It was not accidental that Vazov was a member of the 
most reactionary party of Populists, bankers and representa- 
tives of export capital and it was not accidental that he was 
Minister of National Education in the cabinet of Stoilov 
(1897) when there fell at the hands of a murderer of this 
cabinet one of the most prominent Bulgarian writers— Aleko 

Later, when it was advisable for the Russian Communists to 
strengthen their hold on Bulgaria, Pravda in 1950 took the occa- 
sion on the one hundreth anniversary of the birth of Vazov to 
write (No. 7): 

"The jubilee of Vazov is a festival of democratic Bulgarian 
culture, which developed along the path of revolutionary na- 
tional traditions under the influence of the Russian classical 
literature, the most advanced in the world with its high 
ideas. . . . Vazov revealed not only the Turkish tyranny 
but also those people who supported it, the bourgeois poli- 
ticians of Western Europe and especially England. . . . Even 

Ivan Vazov 87 

before the liberation of Bulgaria, Vazov composed a series 
of well-known verse full of his deep love for Russia. . . . 
The jubilee of Ivan Vazov contributes to the strengthening 
of the democratic and revolutionary traditions of Bulgarian 
literature and cements the friendship of the Bulgarian and 
Soviet peoples." 

It is superfluous to state that these contradictory judgments are 
not due to any literary evaluation of the poet's work but are the 
results of the political-literary policy of the Kremlin. 

His early collections of poems, such as The May Garland, still 
show some of the naivete and the irresponsible nature of much 
of his early poetry; but with the suppression of the revolt of 
1876, he wrote such poems as The Complaints of the Mother, 
which reveal the terrible conditions under which the Bulgarians 
were compelled to live, the Ode to Alexander II and the 
Buried Soldiers, which reflect the joy of the people in their final 

Vazov in all of his poetical works reflects the moods of the 
people and their varying emotions. He does not directly and 
forcibly express his own feelings of the moment and his own 
experiences in those troubled times. Here he differs entirely 
from Botev in whom life and poetry were inextricably mixed. 
Botev's life was his poetry and his poetry was his life. Vazov, 
in a sense, is outside the events which he describes. Despite this 
detachment, he so perfectly reflects the emotions and the thoughts 
of his people that he gives a more vivid picture of the times than 
he perhaps could have done if his own personality were at the 
center of his work. 

In the early period after the liberation he reached what may 
be the high point of his poetic genius when he celebrated the 
heroic figures of the revival in his Epic of the Forgotten. Here, 
in separate poems, he pays homage to Father Paisi, to Rakovski, 
the Brothers Miladinov, the actual fighters such as Levski and 
the volunteers who fought side by side with the Russians at 
Shipka. In a somewhat different vein, in the Legends of Tsare- 
vets, the old palace hill in Tirnovo, he describes in ballad form 
all those historical events that were connected with the Second 

88 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Bulgarian Empire from its beginning to its tragic close at the 
hands of the Turks. Yet, even while he is glorifying the Bulgar- 
ian past, he cannot forget the tragedy of the individual that 
must accompany every successful victory, and in The News he 
shows how the same dispatch must carry the message of triumph 
and of death. 

He carries this almost dualistic attitude into his poems in other 
fields. He shows himself thoroughly aware of the great progress 
that the Bulgarians made after they secured their independence, 
but he cannot overlook their many faults. Recognizing their 
patriotism and service to their people, he still saw and con- 
demned in relatively strong language the hypocritical politicians 
who contrived under the cloak of idealism to serve their own 
interests and the interest of foreign powers. He also censured 
the liberated people, who all too often acted as if they were 
still the helpless and oppressed slaves of the days before the 
liberation. He condemned the quasi-intellectuals who hid their 
own inadequacy behind progressive slogans, as in The Progres- 
sive. In his philosophy he showed himself optimistic concerning 
the future, but at the same time in To a Child he painted a 
bleak picture of life as it is really lived. Death is a reality and 
it can put an end to the higher hopes of a man, but it can 
be disregarded for something higher. The good will ultimately 
prevail but only after a hard struggle, and man must not be- 
come discouraged if, for the moment, evil seems to be in the 
saddle. It is remarkable, too, that Vazov, who began his work 
with frivolous love poems, should pay so little attention to the 
theme of personal love in his lyric poems. Perhaps this omission 
was a result of his personal experience. In fact satire plays a 
far larger role as a weapon with which he can lash his people's 

He wrote a number of longer poems on romantic themes, 
largely unhappy, in which he pointed out the unfortunate results 
of arranged marriages. One of his longer, romantic works is 
Zikhra, a poem about a girl confined in a harem by the sultan 
lest she meet someone to love her. Here we can see clearly the 
romantic devices of Byron and Pushkin, although the fact that 
Vazov was living in a country which only a few years before 

Ivan Vazov 89 

knew these themes as a reality added to the poignancy of his 

Vazov wrote many travel sketches summarizing his journeys 
throughout Bulgaria and to Italy. In these ecstatic sketches he 
gives really fresh pictures of the beauty of the Bulgarian land- 
scape, which he felt deeply and included in many of his poems. 
At the same time his ability to see the humor of many situations 
that would have annoyed the ordinary traveller provided him 
with the objectivity needed to carry out his purpose of showing 
the Bulgarian land and people as they really were. 

He uses the same methods in his many stories. Some of these, 
such as The Chichovtsi, are frankly satirical, and we cannot help 
laughing at the pretensions and claims of the rival village lead- 
ers as they compete for the position of overseer of the local school 
while their ardent admirers quarrel about Greek influence and 
the influence of Voltaire, subjects that they are entirely unpre- 
pared to discuss intelligently. He shows the appeal to the super- 
stitions of the village, the elaborate system of tabus and mean- 
ingless prohibitions which have been applied to life. However, 
he does it all with good humor and leaves the reader with a 
sense not of complete despair but a consciousness that man by 
his own efforts can in freedom adjust these grotesque tradi- 
tions and rise worthily to human dignity. He does this too in 
Tsoncho's Revenge in which a village half-wit, the butt of the 
entire community and especially the pretty girls, saves one of 
these girls from a rockfall in a cave at the cost of his own life, 
a sacrifice that is made voluntarily without a moment's hesitation. 

He uses the same tactics in describing new Bulgaria when he 
scourges the self-important intellectuals for their half-baked 
theories. Though he was himself the son of a chorbadji, he could 
impress upon his people the dignity of honest labor on the land. 
In his prose as in his poetry Vazov pictured Bulgaria both as it 
was and as he hoped it would become. 

Undoubtedly the greatest single work of Vazov was Under the 
Yoke, which he published in 1889. This describes the situation 
in Bulgaria in 1876 before and after the insurrection of that 
year. It pictures all facets of life and classes of Bulgarians of 
the day. It is done in the typical Vazov manner on the basis of 

90 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

the approved historical novel of the time, although it refers 
to events that took place but a few years before. Still, those years 
cover the period between an enslaved and an independent Bul- 
garia, a period which might have been decades or centuries long, 
so great was the difference in the state of mind that rapidly 
evolved even in the same individual. 

The scene is the small Bulgarian city of Bela Cherkva. There 
appears in it a revolutionist known as Boycho Ognyanov, whose 
real name is Ivan Kralich. He has escaped from a Turkish 
prison and has chosen Bela Cherkva as the seat of his next 
operations because of his father's friend, the chorbadji Marko. 
After various adventures, Marko gives him false papers and 
makes it possible for him to stay and become the village teacher. 
Here, too, he wins the youth and also the love of a village 
teacher, Rada Gospojina, but he infuriates the leading Turko- 
phile chorbadji and finally has to flee to escape arrest. 

He returns on the eve of the revolution and identifies himself 
to his friends, Rada and Dr. Sokolov, and promises to marry 
Rada. Then the revolution breaks out in Klisora on April 2, 
1876. Ognyanov is appointed to lead the fight and goes to Kli- 
sora. Rada also follows with a student who worships her. The 
peasants are aroused, but at the approach of Turkish punitive 
forces, they lose heart. Ognyanov escapes to Wallachia and Rada 
who has tried to commit suicide by blowing up the supply of 
gunpowder is saved and taken back to Bela Cherkva. 

A little later Ognyanov, too, arrives in Bela Cherkva on the 
false assumption that the revolution has spread to that city. 
He hides in a mill and is there joined by Rada and Dr. Sokolov, 
but the Turks break in and kill the three. 

In this novel Vazov gives a romantic picture of the tragic 
events of the April Uprising, showing the reaction of all classes 
of the population. There is the monk, the Hegumen Natanail, 
who is ready to use his monastery as an arsenal, and there are 
other priests who do not want to sacrifice themselves for the 
cause of the people. There are the Turkophile chorbadji who 
care only for their own safety and property. There are peasants 
who are willing to die for the cause but have no sense of organi- 
zation or knowledge of military tactics and are easily demoralized. 

Ivan Vazov 91 

Vazov even brings in the famous cannon made out of a cherry log 
which the peasants made and tried to use without success. Rada 
is a typically novelistic heroine of the nineteenth century. The 
reader, whether he be Bulgarian or not, can learn from the vol- 
ume how the Bulgarians as a whole and individually reacted in 
the crisis, but Vazov very emphatically did not try to probe 
deeply into the psychology of even his main characters. That 
was not his way, for his aim was to picture events and not to 
explain why they occurred. Yet his method makes Under the 
Yoke good reading, and we can see why it was the first Bulgarian 
story to be translated into nearly all the languages of western 
Europe as well as Russian. 

Later Vazov in a way continued the novel in another work, 
The New Land. The hero, Nayden Stremski, is the son of the 
chorbadji Marko, who was killed by the Turks. During the boy's 
attempt to escape he saves the life of Nevena Shamura, the 
daughter of an enemy of his father. He secures a post in the 
Russian revolutionary government in Ruse and later meets 
Nevena again, falls in love with her, and marries her. Stremski 
becomes a deputy in the Rumelian parliament and then travels 
in Switzerland and France. On his return to Plovdiv, the union 
of the two regions has taken place and on the outbreak of the 
Bulgarian-Serbian War, he immediately volunteers. 

The novel did not win as great popularity as Under the Yoke, 
for the events which it described were the mundane ones sur- 
rounding the forming of a new and efficient government. The 
story lacks the appeal and the adventure of the futile revolt and 
the struggle for independence. The scene is basically the same 
but a few years later, and some of the characters who have sur- 
vived reappear. It does show Vazov's personal experiences during 
the troublous times when the young leaders of the Bulgarian 
people were trying to make their new form of government func- 
tion. However, it is constructed again on the principle of all 
of Vazov's art, and, like most continuations, it lacks the freshness 
of the first work. 

In a third novel, The Empress of Kazelar, written late in the 
nineties, Vazov again pays his respects with considerable irony to 
the populist intelligentsia and contrasts with them the limited 

92 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

and self-satisfied teacher Chakalov and his wife, both of whom 
have no intellectual interests but desire to build up a model 
economy and become rich at all costs. The novel shows Vazov's 
own conservative principles. It expresses his efforts to put the 
intellectual life and especially the teaching profession on a sound 
basis which could offer the means for constructive work for 
the people; and it makes plain that he prefers conservatism 
to the stormy advocacy of doubtful doctrines. 

Vazov also did for the Bulgarian theatre what he did for lyric 
poetry and artistic prose. When he was in Plovdiv in the eighties, 
there was a call for plays for the local theatre, and of course he 
supplied the need. He dramatized some of his more romantic 
stories and wrote other plays. He dramatized, too, some of his 
comic sketches and produced a long series of comedies, poking 
fun at the foibles of the Bulgarian people, but almost always 
with that kindly attitude that was his forte. Still later he turned 
to the historical drama, and in such works as Borislav and Ivaylo 
he drew upon the life of the Second Bulgarian Empire to present 
a picture of the Bulgarians in the past, showing in his dramas 
that same facility that he exhibited in other branches of 

All this assures Vazov of a unique place in Bulgarian literature. 
He was a true artist, a conscientious and hard-working creator 
of a new literature, which he launched on a high plane on the 
world stage. No one before him had applied himself so diligently 
to the field of literature. No one since has had the wide knowl- 
edge of the Bulgarian people, the wide grasp of Bulgarian life 
in the past and in the present, and no one has been able to speak 
with his authority and experience. There have been men of per- 
haps greater and deeper talent, but there has been no one 
who more correctly and carefully interpreted the thoughts and 
ideas of the great masses of the Bulgarian people and expressed 
them in such beautiful, fluent and poetic language. It is small 
wonder that Vazov on the fiftieth anniversary of his literary 
career should have been greeted by all classes of the population 
and the literary world, even by those critics who had previously 
been his warmest opponents. We can confidently predict that 

Ivan Vazov 93 

those Communist critics who today deplore his conservative 
tendencies and try to depreciate his influence will sooner or 
later also have to admit that he knew how to speak for his 
people and how to give them a voice commanding world 


The First Decades after Liberation 

Ivan Vazov embodied in his works the full extent of the Bul- 
garian literature of the day. He was a unique phenomenon be- 
cause of his range of interest and the variety of the forms of 
literature in which he was the master. During the half century 
of his activity he pictured the various phases through which 
Bulgaria was passing, and he alone offered a rounded picture 
of Bulgarian life. Yet, there were other authors who in lesser 
ways worked with him and presented their own views of some 
of the problems which the country was facing. There were still 
others, slightly younger, who tried to walk in Vazov's footsteps 
and formed, so to speak, a Vazov school, but this group appeared 
later and we can not fairly apply the term to Vazov's associates 
and contemporaries. 

The problems offered by the liberation and the ensuing in- 
trigues of the Great Powers put a heavy strain upon the small 
intelligentsia and subjected them to new and unexpected temp- 
tations. Before 1876 the patriots had but one ideal— to fight 
for a free Bulgaria. Many of these men, as we have seen, were 
compelled by circumstances to live abroad, to spend their lives in 
exile planning to set Bulgaria free, or to hazard their lives by 
taking part in military raids across the borders. Botev, Karavelov 
and Rakovski were cases in point. They were never called upon 
to administer a government. They engaged in true revolutionary 
activities, creating a tradition which lived after them even though 
they did not survive to see the flowering of their hopes. That tra- 
dition, which was one of violence, died hard as their successors 
and admirers sought to advance by the old methods their nation's 
cause and their own interests. The new times called for the old 


The First Decades after Liberation 95 

self-sacrificing spirit but in a new type of man. However, the 
courses of action open to the new men lacked the glamour of the 
fight for freedom. 

The new leaders had the unexciting and laborious task of 
setting up a government that would function. They had to pass 
and administer laws for the amelioration of conditions and 
convince the people to accept them. It was of little use or value, 
now that an independent Bulgaria had its own independent 
Orthodox Church, to complain endlessly of the abuses perpe- 
trated by the Greek clergy. It was more important to make the 
Bulgarian Church an effective force for good. It was more impor- 
tant to steer the new state through the rapids of European 
diplomacy. The evil forces against which they had to fight arose 
at home: grafting politicians who looked to Turkish models of 
conduct, narrow-minded obscurantists and pettifoggers who tried 
to take advantage of the ignorance of the people who had been 
oppressed for centuries by foreign conquerors. They had to fight 
against the siren appeals of half-baked reformers, who somehow 
believed that they alone had the truth and tried at all costs to 
force these truths down the throats of the people. 

In other words Bulgaria had to become a modern European 
state and had to accomplish this task under adverse conditions 
at home and pressure exerted from abroad, for both Russia and 
Austria-Hungary, with German backing, were trying to control 
Bulgarian foreign policy. Bulgaria's leaders had to struggle for 
real European recognition and simultaneously train their own 
people to be worthy of that recognition and able to use it wisely. 

This situation required a new form of administrative en- 
lightener rather than a new form of revolutionist, and that is 
why the Bulgarian Communists today prefer to glorify the older 
men whose work and lives were largely finished with the libera- 
tion and scorn those who endured the labor of the first decade 
following liberation. It would have been fatal to the country 
had the new leaders followed the old paths. This change of 
policy, however, colored not only the political but the literary 
life of the men of Vazov's generation and those born within the 
next ten or fifteen years. 

There were so few men of higher education sufficiently trained 

96 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

to be administrators that responsible individuals could scarcely, 
as patriots, allow themselves the luxury of being only writers. 
Conversely there was such a small reading public in the early 
decades that a writer could scarcely live on the income from his 
works without some government post. Even Vazov was compelled 
to serve as Minister of Education. This precedent of the union 
of the administrative and literary worlds continued, with dimin- 
ishing force, even down to 1939. The Bulgarian writers in the 
eighties and nineties, almost to a man, occupied public office 
for some time in their lives and had political as well as literary 
training. It left a definite mark upon their work. 

We can take as an example a very good friend of Vazov, 
Konstantin Velichkov. He was born in 1855 in the city of Tatar- 
Pazardjik, where his father, a prominent citizen, was one of the 
men imprisoned by the Turks during the April Uprising. The 
boy did well in his studies and in 1868 was sent to the newly 
established Sultan's Lycee in Constantinople. Here, during six 
years of study, he became an admirer of French literature and 
especially of Victor Hugo. Here, too he began to write and trans- 
lated Hugo's Lucretia Borgia with the aid of a friend. He became 
a teacher in his native city, but, caught up in the revolutionary 
movement, he was arrested and taken to Odrin. Later he was 
forced to accept various positions in Constantinople in connec- 
tion with the Bulgarian Exarchate. When Bulgaria became free, 
he returned to Tatar-Pazardjik and held various local offices. 
Then he went to Plovdiv, edited a number of literary journals, 
met Vazov and with him prepared in 1884 the first Bulgarian 
Anthology. He became Director of National Education in East- 
ern Rumelia. When that province was annexed to Bulgaria and 
the anti-Russian disturbances began under Stefan Stambolov, 
he, like Vazov, was forced to flee. Unlike Vazov, however, he went 
to Italy, where he lived first in Florence and later in Rome. 
He devoted himself to studies in art and prepared a very success- 
ful series of Letters from Rome, one of the best descriptions of 
foreign countries in Bulgarian literature. His labors and the 
hardships of his life broke his health and compelled him to leave 
Italy. He went to Constantinople and then to Salonika where he 
taught for some years in the Bulgarian gymnasium there. 

The First Decades after Liberation 97 

After the fall of Stambolov in 1894, he returned to Sofia and 
was soon appointed Minister of Communications and later of 
Education. He held this latter post for some years, during which 
he succeeded in founding an art school which became the 
nucleus of the Bulgarian Academy of Fine Arts, perhaps his 
chief monument. Later he turned his post over to Vazov because 
of difficulties with the teachers and became Minister of Com- 
merce. The following year he retired from political life, and in 
ill health he dragged out a miserable existence until his death in 

Velichkov is known in literature for his Letters from Rome 
and his translation of Dante's Inferno. He produced a large 
number of other works, both peetry and prose, much of which 
has been forgotten. He was not a natural poet who was able to 
rise to his opportunities as Vazov did. Nevertheless, his influence 
was not negligible in the early days, for he expressed in his own 
way his confidence in Bulgaria, his appreciation of the fact that 
Bulgarian literature should include translations of the world's 
masterpieces (he was a good translator) and his feeling that 
sacrifice for his people in the literary field was worthwhile. 

The success of Vazov encouraged other men to follow in his 
footsteps but no one could rival him in his wide consciousness 
of the people as a whole and their newer and more complicated 
desires and needs. Perhaps the most attractive figure of this 
period was Aleko Konstantinov who was born in Svishtov in 
1863. His father, a wealthy merchant with a keen sense of humor 
which his son inherited, realized the value of education. He 
hired private tutors for Aleko and then sent him to the school in 
Gabrovo. On his return, during the Russian-Turkish War, 
Aleko became a clerk in the office of the local governor and in 
1878 went to Russia where he studied in the technical gymnasium 
in Mikolayiv in Ukraine. In 1881 he transferred to the University 
in Odesa, where, as at Mikolayiv, he paid almost more attention 
to literature and the theatre than to his studies. 

In 1885 on his return to Bulgaria he was named a member of 
the circuit court in Sofia and the procurator in the Court of 
Appeals. His work as a judge did not take up all his time and 
energy. He amused himself with a group of young friends who 

98 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

were dubbed "Jolly Bulgaria" because of their fondness for 
good times, music and pranks, pursued in imitation of their gay 
lives in Russia. With his whimsical nature, Konstantinov could 
not fail to be intrigued by the humorous incongruities of the 
Bulgarian life of his day. Absurdities naturally abounded in a 
land where the peasants had not yet outgrown that frame of mind 
which had been developed by centuries of Turkish oppression 
and yet were trying to adapt their lives to the pattern which their 
leaders had introduced from western Europe. Konstantinov put 
these absurdities into literary form. He took his political work 
seriously and was scandalized in his humorous way when a gov- 
ernment partisan called on him for a stern condemnation of the 
editor of an anti-government newspaper. He soon was relieved 
of his post and busied himself as a lawyer, but he had small taste 
for this profession. 

He spent on his translations from Pushkin, Lermontov, Moliere, 
and other foreign authors almost more time than he did on his 
legal practice. The money that he received from his writing 
he set apart for travelling. Thus in 1889 he visited Paris, in 1893 
Prague and the United States, and somewhat later he conceived 
the idea of a trip around the world. On all of his travels he 
maintained the same attitude of mind, a whimsical form of 
Rousseauism and a capacity for detecting the folly of the social 

On his return from Chicago he was drawn into politics. He 
planned to unite the various democratic parties into a strong 
opposition against the conservatives, who supported at all costs 
the arbitrary power sought by Prince Ferdinand. His activities 
aroused the hostility of the military class, as did those of his 
friend Mikhail Takev, who stirred up still more hatred by his 
political actions. One evening when the two friends were in a 
restaurant, three murderers attacked Takev. They failed in their 
attempt on Takev but mortally wounded Aleko Konstantinov 
who died May 11, 1897 when he was only thirty-four years of age. 

Konstantinov's first important prose work was To Chicago and 
Back, an account of his reflections on his journey to America. 
He eagerly devoured all that there was to see in the, for him, 
exotic civilization of the United States and the peculiarities of 

The First Decades after Liberation 99 

the Chicago World's Fair. He combines his whimsical observa- 
tions with a great deal of shrewd common sense, and this makes 
his work valuable as a foreigner's view of the American foibles 
and weaknesses of that time. 

Even more successful was his collection of stories dealing with 
Bay-Ganyu. This is perhaps the most popular satirical collection 
in Bulgarian literature. Aleko Konstantinov somewhat changed 
his conception of the character when he republished the series 
of journalistic sketches in book form. However, basically Bay- 
Ganyu remains the same: a man of incredibly bad taste in all 
aspects of life, an incorrigibly ignorant man unable to appreciate 
any of the finer things of life or to estimate correctly a situation 
in which he finds himself, but at the same time a man with 
an uncannily developed cunning who is able to extricate himself 
from all the unpleasantnesses which he encounters because of 
his unmitigated gall and his refusal to face facts as they really 
are. And what a mass of difficulties he plunges into! Bay-Ganyu 
visits the palace, he runs elections, he is ready to tackle any 
problem no matter how involved, for he is sure that he alone 
has the key to its solution. Cringing and haughty, he moves 
through life in his own way, and the reader can hardly resist 
the feeling that there never could be such a character as Bay- 
Ganyu, at the same time realizing that he has personally known 
in his own experience far too many of such mortals. Later Bay- 
Ganyu goes to Europe. There again he does everything wrong 
and yet lands regularly on his feet. 

The stories are satirical in a true sense, but Konstantinov treats 
his hero with a mellowness and understanding which save Bay- 
Ganyu from being pilloried as a man entirely beyond the pale. 
The author never forgets, in his sternest condemnations, to 
emphasize some human touch that softens his merciless criticism. 
Bay-Ganyu is in fact, like many of his contemporaries, groping 
to find his way with old, familiar methods through the com- 
plexities of a newly developing, unfamiliar state order imported 
from more developed countries abroad. It is small wonder that 
this picture of the unparalleled, semi-intelligent, and grotesque 
figure should remain a favorite among all classes of Bulgarians, 
even though they no longer see Bay-Ganyus in their crudest form 

100 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

walking the streets of Sofia and playing their part in high gov- 
ernmental offices. 1 

Aleko Konstantinov showed the same whimsical touch in his 
feuilletons, which he wrote to further his political program, but 
he was fundamentally too kindly to condemn without some 
human touch or explanation any of the vices of his fellow- 
countrymen, whether in the social or political sphere. His early 
death was one of the great losses of Bulgarian literature in the 
nineteenth century. 

In his genial attitude toward his fellow-man Konstantinov 
differs sharply from his older compatriot, Stoyan Mikhaylovski, 
who was born in Elena in 1856 in a well-educated family. He 
studied at Elena and Tirnovo and then attended the French 
lycee in Constantinople where he completed the course in 1872. 
Here he acquired an excellent knowledge of French and of 
French culture, and after a couple of years in Doyran in Macedo- 
nia he went to France and studied from 1874 to 1879 in the 
Universite Bouches de Rhone. During the struggle for liberation 
he returned for a while to Bulgaria but soon went back to France 
to finish his studies. 

Then he became a lawyer in Tirnovo and was later appointed 
a judge first in Svishtov and then in Sofia, where he filled vari- 
ous distinguished posts. He soon retired on a pension, more or 
less disgusted with the course of government and of affairs in 
general, living an embittered life in solitude until his death in 

Mikhaylovski had an excellent knowledge of French life 
and literature, but it is hard to know whether he ever had any 
understanding of either. His French coloring was developed 
rather as a cover for his ardent Bulgarian patriotism and his 
desire to use French forms to castigate the evils of Bulgarian 
life and politics. In an enormous mass of books, poems, and 
pamphlets he poured out without mercy his aversion to things 
as they were with never a thought of making his ideas palatable 
for his readers. He was not a deep or a consistent thinker, but 
when the spirit came upon him, he lashed out at whatever 
aroused his ire, without caring whether his satirical attacks were 
too extreme to achieve the end which he sought. Thus with equal 

The First Decades after Liberation 101 

fervor he struck out in thunderous blows at the politicians, the 
press, literature, and the writers. Nothing escaped his withering 
scorn and sarcasm. 

This constant preoccupation with the evils of the moment 
dated his works and prevented later generations from according 
his technical and linguistic skill the appreciation they deserved. 
Mikhaylovski lacked conspicuously that spirit of urbanity and 
humor that made the works of Vazov and Konstantinov amuse 
the people even while they scourged and ridiculed the vices of 
the day. As a result, Mikhaylovski's work, although he was un- 
questionably one of the great writers of the period immediately 
after the liberation, did not remain alive and vital as did the 
other writing of the period. 

A more engaging figure is that of Todor Genchov Vlaykov, 
who wrote under the pen-name of Venelin, borrowed from the 
distinguished, early friend of Bulgaria. He was born in Pirdop 
in 1865. From his early years he fostered a certain inherited re- 
ligious sense and interest which was to last all his life. He passed 
through the schools of Pirdop, but, having to pursue his studies 
elsewhere during the struggle for liberation, he went to Sofia. 
He had already become interested in poetry, partly through a 
not too skilled teacher and partly through a volume of Vazov's 
early poems which he secured from an itinerant book salesman. 
Some of his own experiments in imitation of Vazov he published 
in 1883 under the title Macedonian Tears. It was in Sofia that 
he met some future writers and critics and began to compose 
short stories. 

On finishing at the gymnasium Vlaykov had the opportunity 
to travel on a fellowship to the West, but he preferred to go to 
Moscow where he entered upon the study of philology. He had 
to return to Bulgaria during the Bulgarian-Serbian War of 1885, 
but he soon went back to Russia. He developed greater interest 
in the literary, political, and religious writings of the day than 
he did in pure philology. His works show definitely the influence 
of Pisarev and Chernyshevsky, the religious and moral teachings 
of Tolstoy, and above all, the writings of the older generation 
of Ukrainians: Shevchenko, Gogol (Hohol), and KvitkaOsnov- 
yanenko who presented sympathetically and often whimsically 

102 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

the life of the peasants of Ukraine. It was under their influence 
that he wrote his first story, The Granddaughter of Grandfather 
Slavchov, which he sent back from Russia for publication in 

His sympathies with the people and his convictions, strength- 
ened by the ideas of the Russian narodniki, made him feel that 
he had to serve the people, but, unable to make a living by his 
pen alone, he became a teacher in Pirdop. Later he conceived 
the idea of burying himself in a village and sharing, as a teacher, 
the lives of the ordinary people. However, his friends dissuaded 
him, and he became for a while a school inspector in Sofia. 
Then, a change of politics removing him from that position, he 
became a teacher of Russian and Bulgarian in the III Men's 
Gymnasium in Sofia. He continued to write but was soon drawn 
into politics and joined the democratic group around Aleko 
Konstantinov. He failed to be elected to the Sobraniye, but he 
became the political editor of the organ of a new Radical Party 
and for almost twenty years he gave up literature. On his retire- 
ment from journalistic work after thirty years of service, he 
resumed writing .In his last years he became blind but still con- 
tinued to take a deep interest in religious and ethical questions 
and was the unquestioned dean of Bulgarian writers. He died 
in 1943. 

Vlaykov's stories, though they bear the unmistakable imprint 
of the Ukrainian tales of Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, are thoroughly 
Bulgarian and stress the life of the people in its changing aspects. 
The stories, partly idealistic and partly realistic, one and all 
stress the positive qualities that Vlaykov admired in the peasant 
—his love of labor, his stubborn pursuit of a definite goal, his 
love for his family and his high regard for chastity in love. 
Vlaykov's writings reflect the agricultural and official life of his 
own village. Using relatively simple forms, he shows the tragedies 
that confront and overwhelm man because of his own failures 
and, in some cases, because of social forces which are not under 
his control but are the result of the defects of society. 

The vast majority of his stories contain positive characters 
with qualities and virtues which shine through the defeats that 

The First Decades after Liberation 103 

they have to meet, as in The Life of a Mother, in which the cen- 
tral character is overwhelmed by the events of life. He pictures 
the disintegration of the old patriarchal existence, as in Uncle 
Stoyko, or some slow destruction of a formerly cherished ideal, 
but he writes without denying the values of the past or condemn- 
ing too strongly the shifting course of events. 

Whatever the mood of Vlaykov's stories, the gentleness of his 
character and his firm grip upon religious and ethical ideals can 
never be overlooked. His writing shows a later stage of peasant 
development than many of Vazov's works but, like his teacher, 
he never loses sight of the fact that it is his task to help the people 
by presenting to them the ideal side of Bulgaria as a call to 
increased activity in fruitful and progressive ways. 

The last of this group of writers, Anton Strashimirov, while 
perhaps second only to Vazov in his knowledge of Bulgaria and 
its problems, was such a stormy and irascible soul that he was 
perpetually in conflict with someone or other. He never received 
the full recognition that would have been his, had he more 
closely defined his purposes in writing. He was born in 1872 
in Varna where his father had fled to escape Turkish persecu- 
tion. His father died when the boy was seven, and the young 
Anton was brought up by a bachelor uncle. When he had fin- 
ished the second class in school, he started to wander and from 
that time supported himself by all kinds of jobs, from painting 
and serving in an inn to working in a tobacco factory and a 
printing firm. In 1888 he went back to Varna and finished an- 
other grade of school while living with a married sister. The 
wanderlust again came over him, and he landed in a school 
in Shumen where his brother was a teacher. He succeeded in 
passing the fourth class, thanks to his brother, and entered the 
fifth. Then his brother planned to send him to the Sadovsko 
Agricultural School abroad, but he would not stand the life and 
left after two months. He started to teach but failed, being 
dropped from all the school positions which he secured for rude- 
ness, incivility or brawling. In 1892, on the advice of his brother, 
he gave up his attempts at writing poetry and wrote his first 
story, Dulchev, which was published in a newspaper in Tatar- 

104 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Pazardjik. In 1895, after more unpleasantnesses stemming from 
his political activity, he went to Berne, Switzerland for two years, 
where he studied literature and geography. On his return he 
again secured a teaching position in Kazanluk, but within a 
year he was barred from all teaching in Bulgaria because of his 
unruly character. 

Strashimirov then settled in Sofia and dabbled in politics. He 
worked on a long succession of newspapers, in which he published 
not only his political articles but a large number of his literary 
works. He threw himself into the Macedonian cause. In 1911 he 
became a member of the National Assembly, but again his un- 
ruly and undisciplined character kept him from rising in the 
government ranks, whatever party was in power. 

He had lived in all parts of Bulgaria. He had worked in some 
capacity in the villages and in the cities, and had acquired an 
excellent understanding of the evils of the day, the defects of 
the governmental and social system. He could have devoted him- 
self to consistent work either in belles-lettres or in the political 
field, but he chose neither. The result was that at times his 
writings showed flashes of brilliancy, and at times he allowed 
his social indignation to interfere with the unity and harmony 
of his literary work. This was his tragedy. Yet, his prose and 
dramas were often honored by the Academy of Sciences and 
produced in the National Theatre. In 1922, under the peasant 
regime of Stamboliyski, the Ministry of Education published 
an anthology of his works, and he planned other reprints of his 
sketches. Still he did nothing consistently. He died in 1937. 

In the preface to his first volume, Laughter and Tears (1897), 
he said: 

"These stories written throughout six years in the 
wretched homes of the people, did not arise to the melody 
of the 'honeyed' shepherd's pipe— that has long been driven 
from the daily life of the people, driven out by the hard 
evils of centuries. In them are mixed the laughter and the 
tears of a young man, permeated with an idea and illusions 
like those of the mass of the people who are now crushed 
by the new conditions but are still unchangeable as they 
have been throughout the centuries." 

The First Decades after Liberation 105 

Strashimirov told the truth. In his pictures of the life of the 
Bulgarian village, he was prone to stress the dark sides rather 
than to mingle his gloomy accounts with tales of the peasants' 
lighter moments. 

And what a picture he was able to present, for he knew the 
life that he described with all of its hardships. In fact in some 
of his early works he was so intent upon describing these diffi- 
culties that he seemed to lose all sense of literary values. Yet 
he could be more optimistic. In the story entitled Autumn Days 
we have a young man, Doyno Maydovski, courting a girl named 
Angelina. She loves Djonka whose family is hostile to hers. 
After various episodes Djonka is forced to flee to the mountains. 
Maydovski, the approved suitor, prepares the marriage, but 
Angelina jumps out of the window. She too disappears in the 
mountains. Here she fortunately meets her lover and the story 
ends happily with the two united and the family feud at an end. 

Strashimirov does not, however, confine himself to the village. 
He plunges into the problem of the cities and their submerged 
classes. He shows some appreciation of their social and psycho- 
logical problems and the value of the new ideas which were 
slowly spreading in all classes of society. 

His dramas show the same features. One of the most effective 
of these, The Vampire, shows a clash between an old tyrannical 
woman and a young man. She has picked him as her daughter's 
husband, without any regard for the girl's feelings. The marriage 
takes place but when Vela refuses to give up her true lover, the 
jealous husband flees to the mountains and joins a band of out- 
laws. He is by now convinced that the old woman is responsible 
for his plight. When he and the outlaws come down to the village, 
he kills the lover, but the old woman is physically strong enough 
to escape and hands him over to the authorities. The Vampire 
is one of the striking plays in the Bulgarian repertoire. It shows 
very well that when Strashimirov allowed himself to develop 
his theme logically and consistently, he could do it with real art 
and that he possessed a talent which many of his enemies refused 
to recognize. 

There were minor figures in the period, such as Mikhalaki 
Georgiev, who are now almost forgotten. All of these authors 

106 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

showed themselves aware of the needs of the Bulgarian people 
and attempted both by their public activity and their literary 
work to meet these needs. They often fell between the two stools 
and did not succeed in either endeavor. Yet, their work shows a 
definite advance over the pre-liberation writers. Without belong- 
ing to any particular school, they prepared the people for the 
new literary movement that was to follow. 


The Coming of Modernism 

As we have seen, the writers of the first two decades of Bul- 
garian independence were compelled to make their living in 
diverse occupations and to work in the two fields of politics 
and literature. Because the number of trained men in the newly 
liberated country was too small to answer the vital needs of 
administration and culture, authors, even against their will, 
were forced to play an active role in political life. By the nineties, 
the situation had begun to change. The younger group of literary 
men were able to devote themselves entirely to literature, de- 
flected from their course only somewhat by service of some kind 
in the Bulgarian National Library in Sofia and the other cul- 
tural institutions. 

Yet we cannot draw a hard and fast line between the older 
and the younger men; some of the latter differed more by train- 
ing than by age from their elders. They had had the opportunity 
to pursue literary studies abroad, largely in western Europe, 
and, except for those who had imbibed the doctrine of Marxism, 
they tended to discount the Russian political and theoretical 
adherents of revolution. The two men who led this younger group 
and prepared the literary defence of the new attitude were 
Pencho Slaveykov and Dr. Krest Kristev, the one an outstanding 
poet and the other a literary critic. Both men were under the 
influence of advanced German modernism and in the Communist 
jargon of the present day have been dubbed "bourgeois indi- 

Pencho Slaveykov was the fifth son of the old writer and poet, 
Petko Rachev Slaveykov. He inherited his father's poetic gifts, 
although he used them very differently. Born in Trevna in 1866, 


108 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

he was only three years younger than Aleko Konstantinov and six 
years older than Strashimirov. In his early years he was largely 
brought up by his mother, for his father was engaged in literary 
and political work in Constantinople. However, he could remem- 
ber his father's role at the time, his service as a guide to General 
Skobelev and the burning of his father's house and manuscripts 
in Stara Zagora in 1876-7. The boy received his early education 
in various places in Bulgaria, especially Plovdiv, which in the 
early eighties was the center of Bulgarian cultural life. He was 
taken to Sofia in 1885. Before this he had suffered various severe 
illnesses, both pneumonia and typhus, and the ensuing complica- 
tions made him for years an almost hopeless invalid. He was sent 
to Vienna and Paris for treatment, but he never fully recovered 
his health. It was his father's help and sympathy that encour- 
aged him to persevere in study despite his physical handicaps. 

During these years he acquired a good knowledge of Russian 
literature, and he also became familiar with the works of Heine 
through a Russian translation. In 1892 he went to Leipzig to 
study literature and philosophy and remained in that city until 
1908. Though he travelled extensively in the various Slavic re- 
gions, it was German influence that remained paramount in his 
works and it was through German that he became familiar with 
all of the cultural advances in western Europe. His chief models 
were Goethe, Heine, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Although 
these men influenced his ideas, he never became a slavish ad- 
herent of any of them. He was not attracted to the extreme ideas 
of the French decadents, but he did learn to appreciate the careful 
workmanship of the younger European authors and joined in 
their revolt against the positivism and naturalism which were the 
prevailing trends. He was also attracted to Nietzsche's theory of 
the superman but not in its crudest form. 

In 1908 Pencho Slaveykov returned to Bulgaria to live and 
during the next years held various posts in the Bulgarian Na- 
tional Library and the National Theatre. Yet, he was too inde- 
pendent for the political authorities and was relieved of several 
posts. In a sense this depressed him and isolated him from the 
life of the country. Finally he took a trip to Italy where, on the 
Lago di Como, he had a stroke in 1912 and passed away at the 

The Coming of Modernism 109 

age of forty-six. In 1921 his body was returned to Bulgaria, 
where he had already been recognized as a great poet. 

With his friend, Dr. Kristev, Pencho Slaveykov took an ad- 
vanced position in the struggle to broaden Bulgarian cultural 
life and to implant in the native tradition the general principles 
of European art and culture. This led to a bitter literary con- 
troversy between the supporters of Vazov and the older writers 
with their realism and populist ideals and the newer psychologi- 
cal and philosophical school of Pencho Slaveykov and Dr. Kris- 
tev and their chief literary organ, Misl (Thought). Both sides 
took extreme positions regarding the future and purpose of lit- 
erature. Later, more sober thought included the realization that 
there were elements of right and truth in both camps. However, 
the present regime in Bulgaria has gone as far as it can in criti- 
cizing Slaveykov and his group for their neglect of the Russian 
revolutionary writers of the nineteenth century and their insist- 
ance upon the rights of the individual. As a matter of fact, the 
entire development of Bulgarian literature in the pre-liberation 
and post-liberation days was a vehement assertion of the princi- 
ple that the Bulgarians, after centuries of oppression, had much 
to learn from abroad. Nevertheless, in the fervor of liberation 
and despite the political turmoil of the nineties, the writers were 
all too often satisfied with what they had accomplished. They 
needed some new inspiration from outside to move to still more 
advanced positions. This inspiration was furnished by Pencho 
Slaveykov, and, after reflection, the younger men did not deny 
the accomplishments and successes of the older writers. 

What Pencho Slaveykov wanted and succeeded in doing in 
his own work was to breathe into Bulgarian poetry a philosophi- 
cal as well as a lyrical and descriptive element for this had been 
lacking in the more artless works of his predecessors, including 
those of his own father. This philosophical content did not 
form a consistent whole. Pencho, even in his first immature col- 
lection of poems, A Young Man's Tears (1888), stressed the idea 
that the heart is governed by different motives and laws than 
the reason, and this inconsistency runs through all of his further 

In Leipzig he developed his innate pessimism still further, 

110 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

adopting Heine's theory of the hedonism of suffering. He was 
perhaps influenced by his own years of ill health, but he could 
find external support for the theory through the experiences 
of such men as Beethoven, who became deaf and never heard any 
of his finest works of music. Yet, this principle, as he expressed 
it in his poems of Prometheus, who suffered because of his serv- 
ices to mankind, could not satisfy him. He turned to the story 
of Phryne, whose perfect beauty won her the pardon that she 
could not have otherwise hoped to receive. Thus Slaveykov 
wavers in an irrational hesitation between his belief in the 
power of suffering and in the beauty of art. 

His search for a solution to this philosophical dilemma is re- 
flected in his Epic Songs of the first series (1897) and the second 
(1907). The two collections reveal Slaveykov's philosophical 
development during his stay in Leipzig. They reflect also his 
appreciation of the basic feelings and traditions of the Bulgarian 
people, who bowed to a sober realism which their sense of ideal- 
ism urged them not to accept. With his lack of philosophical 
consistency, Slaveykov tried to create a synthesis of the real and 
the ideal, avoiding the use of metaphysical devices to bring this 
about and rather relying upon some incomplete fusion through 
the different laws and modes of operation of the heart and the 

In 1907 he published a lyric collection, The Dream of 
Happiness. As he expresses it in one poem of this collection, 
"my soul is strange to the world like an ancient temple in ruins, 
but the world in its confusion seeks to enter it, only in order 
to profane it." Here his mood is that of the Romantic Russian 
poet, Lermontov. Yet, Slaveykov does not seek an absolute iso- 
lation. In the day he wishes for the night and in the night for 
the day. He wishes to combine the real and the dream. This 
collection shows the marked influence of Heine, but even while 
he is most dependent upon Heine's spirit, Slaveykov remains 
firmly himself in his search for a new philosophical content 
which will aid him in making clear to his people the beauty of 
the world and of human nature despite his pessimism about both. 

In his next collection, On the Islands of the Blessed (1910), 
he passed into a new phase in which, to some degree, he cor- 

The Coming of Modernism 111 

rected but did not deny his former thinking. This work is an 
anthology of poems by various writers which Slaveykov cor- 
rected and amplified by speaking in his own person, although, 
to secure his effects, he often introduced poems of his own as the 
writings of unknown poets. These poems reflect his pantheism, 
a pantheism with a definitely Christian coloring, even though 
he seems not to accept some of the basic ideas of Christianity. 
He tries in his own way to unite the Superman and the God-man, 
the one looking out from the world and the other looking into 
it. This attempt on philosophical grounds to unite God and man 
is one of the keys to that philosophical thinking which, in vari- 
ous forms, runs through all of his work. 

The last and greatest of the works of Pencho Slaveykov was 
his Song of Blood, which he had not finished at the time of his 
death, although he had worked on it for all of his poetical life. 
It was inspired probably by the memories of his father and also 
by such novels as Vazov's Under the Yoke. In it Slaveykov at- 
tempted to present the philosophical and psychological basis of 
the Bulgarian movement for independence. The poem is a de- 
scription of the April Uprising with its culmination in the battle 
of Shipka, but the poet was more interested in the delineation 
of the motives of his individual characters and of the people 
as a whole than he was in the description of the actual course 
of events. He tried to do for Bulgaria what Mickiewicz had done 
for Poland in Pan Tadeusz— to create a national epic for his 
people and to describe that people as the chosen of God not 
only in their hours of success but in their centuries of oppression. 
It was the national endurance of that oppression that made the 
nation a Prometheus with a hope for the future; the poet wanted 
to glorify its possibilities rather than create a Bulgarian Mes- 
sianism, either on the Russian or the Polish pattern. He wove 
into his work strands of his individual thinking and his favorite 
themes, the results of his reading of Tolstoy and Nietzsche. 
He also employed motifs of the folksongs and folk traditions 
which he had learned in his early youth under the influence of 
his father, who had taken an important part in the Bulgarian 
fight for independence. How he would have finished and re- 
vised the book we cannot say, but fragmentary as it is, this work 

112 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

remains perhaps his greatest and most ambitious monument 
and the one which brought him the closest to the Bulgarian 
national spirit and the ordinary Bulgarian citizen. 

In addition to his poetical works, Pencho Slaveykov, in a large 
number of articles in Thought, outlined the theoretical bases 
of his belief in art and in the duties and responsibilities of the 
artist. It was his conviction that the artist, in his actions and 
work, is bound to fulfill not the standards of the mob but the 
eternal standards of right, beauty and truth expressed through 
his artistic conscience. This was a direct challenge to the views 
of the older generation, which had fixed its gaze upon the well- 
being of the nation and the preparation of the nation to play 
a significant role in European politics. 

We can thus see Pencho Slavey kov's role in Bulgarian litera- 
ture. He was the first of a large number of authors who learned 
abroad the secrets of the European poetical culture of the last 
half of the nineteenth century and tried to acclimate it in the 
Bulgarian soil. His methods and his goal could not win him 
the popularity which was won so easily by his father and Vazov. 
Yet he played an important part in the development of the Bul- 
garian literary consciousness and spread the seeds of that move- 
ment which was to gain world recognition for Bulgarian litera- 
ture. It is small wonder that his friends felt justified in present- 
ing his name for the Nobel Prize in Literature on the eve of his 
untimely death, when he was still in possession of his poetical 

Pencho Slaveykov was the creative artist who breathed life 
into the new ideas and exemplified them in practice. The theo- 
retician was his friend, Dr. Krest Kristev, born of a Bulgarian 
family in Pirot in 1866 and given the Serb name of Stavro Kris- 
tich. When Pirot was handed over to the Serbs by the Treaty 
of Berlin, his family moved to Sofia, and he took the equivalent 
Bulgarian name of Krest Kristev. In 1885 he went to Leipzig to 
study literature and philosophy and received the doctorate there 
in 1888. On his return to Bulgaria, he taught for two years in 
Kazanluk and then was appointed to the Highest School in 
Sofia, the institution that was soon to become the University of 
Sofia. Here he was Instructor in German and Professor of Phi- 

The Coming of Modernism 113 

losophy until he was removed for political reasons. He was later 
reappointed a couple of times. In Sofia he busied himself with 
editing various journals, first Kritika (Criticism), but his great 
work was as editor of the journal, Misl (Thought), which for 
seventeen years was the organ of the advanced forms of literature 
and the chief medium for the younger writers. On the eve of 
World War I, Dr. Kristev protested against the policy of the 
Bulgarian government and was arrested. After his release he 
continued his work, but the disastrous defeat of Bulgaria broke 
him down and he died in 1919. 

He was the first serious literary critic in Bulgarian literature. 
He had studied in Germany not only German philosophy but 
also the theory of literature. On his return home, he endeavored 
to apply the principles which he had learned to the literature of 
his native land. In the earlier part of his career he described 
the problems of esthetics, and his criticism of books was ex- 
planatory and descriptive. Later he began to criticize the gen- 
eral theories on which the authors were working, and he led a 
particularly vigorous campaign against the later works of Vazov, 
whom he charged with neglect in his later years of those finer 
sides of art which he had known so well how to stress in his 
earlier and greater works. 

Kristev, developing a theory of a spiritual aristocracy among 
writers, declined to give full credit to many of the older men 
who did not in his opinion come up to the standards which he 
had set. His favorite authors and those whom he praised most 
highly were the group of Modernist poets headed by Pencho 
Slaveykov. He saw in them the recognition and fulfillment of 
the cultural possibilities of the Bulgarian people, something 
that was lacking in too many of the older writers. Naturally 
the present Bulgarian regime looks with disfavor at Dr. Kristev. 
He is accused of fostering individualism and fascism, ideas which 
in their present interpretation were alien to him because he 
always laid his emphasis on the production of artistic works 
which could not be turned out on an assembly line of literature. 

We must mention here another scholar who had much to do 
with the development of Bulgarian literature and culture and 
laid a firm basis in philology and ethnology for the work of the 

114 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

younger writers. This man was Professor Ivan Shishmanov. He 
was born in Vidin in 1862 but as a boy, after his father's death, 
he had the opportunity to study in Vienna, where he remained 
from 1876 to 1882. On his return to Bulgaria he taught for a 
while at Vidin and then secured a post in the Ministry of Edu- 
cation. Here he had the possibility of studying on a fellowship 
at Jena. To improve his French, he next went to Geneva, 
Switzerland, where he stayed, with some interruptions, for a 

While he was there, he became friendly with the family of 
Mykhaylo Drahomaniv and later married Drahomaniv's daugh- 
ter. He returned to Sofia and had a long and brilliant career 
as a professor at the University of Sofia in various fields of eth- 
nology and literature. During 1918-1919 he served as Bulgarian 
envoy in Kiev to the Ukrainian National Republic. After the 
conquest of that state by the Communists, he returned to Sofia 
and resumed his work. He died suddenly while attending a sci- 
entific meeting in Sweden in 1928. His studies were important, 
but perhaps his greatest accomplishment was his success in secur- 
ing for his father-in-law a position as Professor in the then new 
University of Sofia. Mykhaylo Drahomaniv, or Dragomanov, 
(1841-1895) was one of the outstanding Ukrainian scholars 
and patriots of the second half of the nineteenth century. 
He had been Professor of History in the University of Kiev 
and had published several works on Ukrainian ethnology, folk- 
lore and folksongs. In 1876 he was deprived of his professorship 
in an anti-Ukrainian movement on the part of the Russian 
government. At the same time a ukaz of Tsar Alexander II pro- 
hibited the printing of books in Ukrainian. Drahomaniv went 
to Switzerland as an emissary of the Ukrainian circles and 
printed in Geneva the journal Hromada (Community). For the 
next ten years he was the spokesman for the Ukrainian cause 
in western Europe and brought it to the attention of the western 
world. It was during this time that Shishmanov met him. Draho- 
maniv, an outstanding scholar, a progressive but moderate 
thinker, was sharply critical of many of the Russian revolution- 
ary ideas 1 and worked for the cooperation of the various Slavic 
peoples. He taught Shishmanov and his other students in Bui- 

The Coming of Modernism 115 

garia his spirit and methods, and he did much to establish Bul- 
garian scholarship on a firm basis. 

It was still more important to Bulgaria that his niece, Larysa 
Kosach, 2 better known by her pen name Lesya Ukrainka, spent 
considerable time in Sofia with her uncle and cousins. She was 
an exponent of precisely those new moods and methods that 
Dr. Khristev and Pencho Slaveykov were calling for, and now in 
Sofia she had the opportunity to impress her ideas independently 
upon many of the younger Bulgarian writers. Thus, although 
Ivan Shishmanov always remained more of a scholar than a 
literary man, it was through his direct and indirect connections 
that many innovations were made in Bulgarian literature, and 
the national culture was deepened and advanced. 

The second of the outstanding poets of this modernist group 
was Peyo Yavorov, a man of great emotional variations but a 
consistent lyric poet and perhaps even greater and more purely 
lyrical than Pencho Slaveykov. His father, Totyu Kracholov, 
apparently of Arab descent, had for various reasons settled in 
the city of Chirpan and here Peyo was born in 1878. He was a 
secluded, retiring, and delicate child throughout his school 
career. Later he went to a gymnasium in Plovdiv, but his father 
suffered financial reverses and had to take him out of the school 
before he finished the course. The boy then became in 1898 
a student telegrapher in his native city, and the next year he 
was sufficiently trained to become a regular telegrapher. 

Before he started to study telegraphy he paid a visit to Sofia 
in the autumn of 1895 in the hope of securing a position in the 
literary or theatrical world. He failed in both endeavors. Al- 
though he did secure a certain entree into the literary field, 
he became far more absorbed in socialism, and for the next 
years he preached this doctrine very energetically. He became 
the editor of Delo (The Cause) when his friends called him to 
Sofia in 1901 as the chief of one of the telegraph and post offices. 
Then he gave this up to join a revolutionary detachment in 
Macedonia, which was struggling at the moment to join Bul- 
garia and win independence from Turkey. He fought there for 
almost two years with his friend Gotse Delchev. On his return 
to Bulgaria he took the editorship of another journal, Mace- 

116 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

donia, and then became head librarian in the Bulgarian National 
Library in Sofia. In 1906 Shishmanov, who was then Minister of 
Education, sent him to Paris, after he had made a trip on his 
own to Vienna and Geneva. In 1908 he became associated with 
the Bulgarian National Theatre and wrote for it his two plays, 
In the Foothills of Vitosha and When the Thunder Strikes. 

His works almost without his own effort received the approval 
of Slaveykov and Dr. Kristev, who published many of the 
writer's best poems in Thought. In fact it was they who induced 
him to take the pen name of Yavorov. Unfortunately, this 
man of great promise was not destined to a long life. 

He fell in love in 1907, but circumstances prevented marriage. 
Then a little later he met another girl, the daughter of a wealthy 
provincial family. This love affair tortured him, for the family 
did not approve of his socialistic ideas. There is no way of know- 
ing how it would have developed. The girl joined him in Paris 
on his visit there and died suddenly. This threw the poet into 
the depths of despair. At the same time a third girl, Lora Kara- 
velova, set her heart upon marrying him and also followed him 
to Paris and proposed while he was still overwhelmed with grief. 
She did not accept his refusal and continued to follow him. 
He finally yielded in 1912 on the eve of the First Balkan War. 
The poet returned safely from his military service, but married 
life proved difficult for both partners and Lora finally committed 
suicide. Dazed and crushed by this, Yavorov tried to shoot him- 
self but succeeded only in injuring one eye. This injury resulted 
in total blindness. During this period some of his ill-wishers 
circulated the story that he had murdered his wife. This was 
more than he could stand and on October 17, 1914 he shot 
himself again. This time his attempt at suicide was successful. 
Thus died at the age of thirty-six one of Bulgaria's greatest poets. 

Yavorov began to write poetry under very unfavorable condi- 
tions. During his years as a telegrapher and after his first dis- 
couraging visit to Sofia, he commenced to read diligently all 
of the great Russian classics and the Russian radical literature 
as well as Heine in a Russian translation. His poems, published 
in the socialist Delo, reflected very keenly the poet's dissatis- 
faction with his own lot and also his social indignation at the 

The Coming of Modernism 117 

downtrodden conditions of the Bulgarian peasants, for whom he 
had more sympathy than he had for the proletariat of the grow- 
ing Bulgarian cities. In a sense he swung between the influence 
of Lermontov, with his demonic feeling concerning his own 
ability and suffering and lack of immediate recognition, and 
the influence of Nadson, the favorite of the Russian radicals of 
the eighties and nineties with his outflowing of love for the 
oppressed and his feeling that however bad the present was, the 
future would somehow have to be better, even though he had no 
idea how the improvement would come to pass. These early 
poems with the usual socialistic themes nevertheless revealed 
Yavorov's growing mastery of metre and a growing note of 
personal lyricism that attracted the attention of such men as 
Pencho Slaveykov and Dr. Kristev. It was not too long before 
he was asked to contribute to their journal Thought. It is 
these early poems that have endeared Yavorov to the Bulgarian 
Communists. At the same time, these very poems called forth 
severe criticism from Slaveykov, who in a preface to an edition 
of the poems issued in 1904 pointed out the surprising lapses 
from good taste in his social themes. Yet even Slaveykov admired 
the poet's expression of his personal feelings and of his keen 
appreciation of the beauties of nature. All this assured Yavorov 
of a special place in Bulgarian literature and encouraged him to 
develop his real talent, his amazing control of the metrics and 
the sounds of the language and his skill in pure lyric poetry. 
Such poems of this period as the Crocus, Spring and May 
have a dominant lyric and wistful note, jarred now and then 
when Yavorov expresses his own views on the hard lot of the 

His trip to Macedonia marked the beginning of a new period. 
He became a great admirer of Gotse Delchev, one of the leaders 
of the Macedonian movement. After Delchev's death Yavorov 
published his biography in thoroughly lyric prose. Later he 
wrote the Hayduk Couplets, a prose account of his wanderings 
as a chetnik 3 and his own experiences and emotions. His experi- 
ences as well as his Hayduk Songs brought the work of Yavorov 
into close connection with that of Botev and the early fighters 
for Bulgarian liberty, but they also gave him a new place in 

118 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Bulgarian literature and freed him from the burden of his 
formerly narrow socialistic views and aspirations. 

By 1907 when he published his collections, Insomnia and 
Visions, after his return from Nancy, Yavorov began to find 
himself, and, without adopting the deep philosophical thought 
of Slaveykov, he handled in his own way the cursed questions 
of life and death in a lyrical form. This maturity is true of his 
last collection, The Breath of the Shadows on the Clouds (1911), 
in which he stresses the ephemeral character of all things exist- 
ing. In these later works his poems show some influence of the 
contemporary school of Russian Symbolists, reflecting such writ- 
ers as Balmont and Merezhkovsky. In some poems based upon 
historical or quasi-historical personages, such as Messalina, Cleo- 
patra and Sappho, he points out how their deep emotions were 
concentrated on some shadowy, if not altogether imaginary, 
figure and yet did not lose their deep truth and reality. These 
later works showed the genius of Yavorov at its best, and in the 
harmony and beauty of his thought and style he reveals little 
or nothing of the terrible discord and the waves of despair that 
were destroying his vitals and making his life intolerable. 

In 1910 he brought out his first drama which was produced 
successfully in the National Theatre, In the Foothills of Vitosha. 
The drama in a sense reflects one of his own unhappy love af- 
fairs, for he presents the young idealistic radical Kristoforov 
running for political office and being defeated by the repre- 
sentative of the propertied classes, Stepan Dragodanoglu. Un- 
fortunately Kristoforov loves Mila, a younger sister of Stepan. 
The proposed marriage is frowned upon by the family who 
place her under restraint and try to find for her a more suitable 
husband, of a conservative type. Kristoforov cannot agree to 
yield his independence to the political demands of the Radical 
Party to which he belongs and retires from politics. At the same 
time Mila, who has not had the courage to break with her fam- 
ily and marry him, escapes from them but is run down by a 
street car on her way to find Kristoforov. The lovers are only 
reunited for a moment before she dies and he commits suicide. 
It was in a way a portent of Yavorov's own end four years later. 

A second drama, When the Thunder Strikes (1911), shows 

The Coming of Modernism 119 

the frightful consequences of an old lie in the lives of the next 
generation. Whether Yavorov would have developed into a great 
dramatist is perhaps uncertain since his career was cut short 
by his suicide. Yet he has remained one of the leading mem- 
bers of his group and one of the greatest lyric poets of Bulgaria. 

The third of the outstanding authors of this group was 
Petko Todorov who was born in Elena in 1879. His father was 
conservative and well-to-do. He had a considerable library 
of Bulgarian, Russian, French and Turkish books so that the 
young Todorov had every opportunity to see the good side of 
the old Bulgarian way of life. After some time in the gymnasium 
of Tirnovo, he transferred to France and studied in Toulouse 
where he learned to know the modern French writers and also 
French translations of such authors as Ibsen, Strindberg and 
Hauptmann, all of whom were to have an influence on his writ- 
ings. After a passing infatuation with the writings of Marx 
and Engels, he returned to Bulgaria in 1897 and was arrested 
at Ruse but was soon released. He then returned to western 
Europe and studied at the University of Berne in Switzerland 
and then in Berlin. In 1898 he returned to Sofia and secured a 
position in the Bulgarian National Library, working on a doc- 
toral dissertation on "The Relationship of the Slavs to Bul- 
garian Literature," a subject which led him to visit Prague and 
Lviv where he became friendly with Ukrainian writers like Ivan 
Franko, Olha Kobylyanska and the other friends of Lesya 
Ukrainka. He stayed in the Bulgarian National Library most 
of his life, but he became gravely ill and died in Switzerland in 
1916 during World War I. After the war in 1921, his body was 
returned to Sofia. 

Petko Todorov began his career under the influence of social- 
istic thought with poems and stories on the themes approved by 
the socialist thought of the day, and he met with some success. 
Yet his heart was not in the social struggle or with the develop- 
ment of Populism in Bulgaria. By the time that he returned from 
his second trip to Europe and his stay in Germany, he had whole- 
heartedly adopted the ideas of the modern Symbolist movement, 
and it was in that vein that he continued until his death. The 
influence of Ibsen and Hauptmann was clearly marked and 

120 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

so too was that of Lesya Ukrainka, whom he had met during 
her visits in Bulgaria with her uncle and cousins, the Shish- 
manovs. Like her, he endeavored to acclimate in Bulgarian 
literature the newer and more modern philosophy of literature 
and to broaden the scope of the native conceptions without 
abandoning the national wealth of folklore and tradition. 

His best work was perhaps his Idyls, short prose minatures 
illustrating some phase of life, some emotion often expressed 
in symbolist form, and incorporating very frequently the thought 
of Nietzsche and the superman only to unveil it as a mask 
for emptiness and superficiality. All of the characters search for 
happiness, but they can never find it because they are always 
looking for it in the wrong place. Thus we have the Bear- 
Tamer. In this story the young Kalina falls in love with a 
gypsy bear-tamer. Despite the protests of her friends, she goes off 
with him and marries in gypsy fashion. She has to stay with him 
as he wanders around; she is forced to sell her jewels in the 
Dobrudja as the bear-tamer leads his wandering life, while her 
mother pines away in longing for her daughter's return. There 
is something of this sadness and frustration in all of the Idyls. 
Either a man seeks for solitude and then too late discovers that 
he wants a home or he secures a home and finds that he needs 

Pencho Slaveykov early pointed out to him the richness of the 
Bulgarian tradition, and Todorov in his sketches and in his 
dramas develops native themes. However, he does not do this 
in the same way as the mass of the older Bulgarian writers. He 
tries to put into his themes some individual meaning, some 
personal touch, some aspect of human psychology which all too 
often makes his writings seem remote from the spirit of the 
average Bulgarian. 

Again and again he retells some story of tradition in a sym- 
bolist setting. Thus in The Builders he revives the old legend 
of the immuring of a maiden within the walls of a newly con- 
structed building to increase the security of the building, 
but he gives it a novel turn. The peasants are building a church. 
When its success is menaced by the discord of the villagers and 
the threat of an attack by Turkish robbers, Khristo, a poor peas- 

The Coming of Modernism 121 

ant but the beloved of the village beauty Rada, leads the peasants 
against the bandits. His rival, Doncho, remains behind and is 
induced by the superstitious to take an oath that the first girl 
to enter the church building will be killed by the falling of a 
scaffold. By trickery he brings Rada to the spot, claiming that 
Khristo is inside, mortally wounded. Then he repents but it is too 
late. Rada is killed. Khristo and his men return victorious, but 
they curse the church. Khristo leaves the village, while Doncho 
commits suicide. 

The Samodiva (The Fairy) is again drawn from folklore as 
Lesya Ukrainka later drew in Ukrainian The Forest Song and 
Hauptmann, The Sunken Bell. The young Stiliyan, a lover of 
the mountains and freedom, falls in love with a mountain fairy. 
She loves him in return but no sooner has she assumed human 
form and adopted the humdrum life of the village than he be- 
comes bored and gloomy and unloving. A neighbor, Boyko, 
revives in her the image of that Stiliyan whom she has loved 
in the mountains and together with him she leaves the venomous 
house of her husband for another form of free life. It is the same 
message of the impossibility of adapting beauty to the sordid 
realism of every day life that we find in Hauptmann's The 
Sunken Bell and other European plays of the same period. 

It is a question how well Todorov has succeeded in breathing 
new wine into old bottles of folklore and tradition. His efforts 
are often artistically successful. However, he often produced 
something that does not seem native to the Bulgarian soil and 
the Bulgarian character, even though he clothed it in a superb 
Bulgarian setting. There is more of the artificial in him than 
in Yavorov, but for the European who desires to find European 
motifs in Bulgarian literature, Todorov stands without peer. 
It is only to be regretted that he died before he had worked out 
a final synthesis of his subject matter and his methods. 

A somewhat less important, but perhaps more popular, writer 
who may be assigned to this group is Kiril Khristov. He was born 
in 1875 in Stara Zagora. After the early death of his parents he 
was brought up by various relatives until he went to Italy 
to study navigation. Ill health kept him from continuing in 
this field, and he returned to Bulgaria as a teacher and finally 

122 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

a university professor. After World War I he again left Bulgaria 
to wander around Germany and Czechoslovakia in a self-im- 
posed exile until his death in 1944. 

Khristov early made his mark as an erotic and Anacreontic 
poet. He was, nevertheless, not without deeper motifs and a 
remarkable gift for language that made him popular from the 
time his earliest works appeared. His first poems seemed to place 
him among the Modernists, and he was welcomed by the more 
serious classes of Bulgarian society. As time passed, however, 
he sank into a less ambitious role. His early inventions in the 
field of the personal lyric were far outstripped by Pencho Sla- 
veykov and his friends. Yet, Khristov never lost his popularity, 
and he worked in all branches of poetry. In fact his poetical 
drama Boy an Magesnikut (Boy an the Magician), which ap- 
peared in 1911, was the first verse drama in Bulgarian. It was 
a patriotic tale of the defence of Bulgaria against the agents of 
Byzantium. His collections of patriotic songs were well received, 
and on the whole, without being a star of the first magnitude, 
Khristov was a symbol of the heights to which Bulgarian litera- 
ture had developed before World War I. 

By the time of the Balkan Wars and World War I, the poets 
of the day had in fact revolutionized the older Bulgarian litera- 
ture. They had introduced the new European poetry with all 
of its Western and Russian characteristics, and Bulgaria seemed 
ready to move ahead. Then began the series of tragedies that 
were to color the next years. 


Bulgarian Prose and Drama 

During the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first 
of the twentieth, Bulgarian prose and the Bulgarian stage did 
not pass through such a revolutionary development as did the 
poetry. There are several reasons for this. The tradition of prose 
literature had been firmly established even before the liberation 
by Karavelov, and afterwards by Vazov, in a Populist and a peas- 
ant tradition and as a study especially of the life of the peasants 
before and immediately after the liberation. Furthermore, many 
of the old masters who had established and developed this tra- 
dition lived on and worked fruitfully until well after World 
War I, and they never lost their hold upon the reading public. 
Thus there was little or no call for the appearance of a new set 
of writers with new principles and new themes. In lesser degree 
this was also true of the Bulgarian stage and of the first phases 
of the development of the Bulgarian National Theatre which was 
founded in 1907. 

The outstanding innovator was in a way Georgi Stamatov. 
He was born in 1869 in Tiraspol, Government of Kherson in 
Ukraine in the Russian Empire. His father, a lawyer, had left 
Bulgaria before the liberation, and it was not until 1879 that 
he returned to his country and became President of the Court 
of Cassation. His son until then had been brought up as a 
Russian. He had attended Russian schools and apparently did 
not know the Bulgarian language or even realize that he was 
not a pure-blooded Russian. In 1882 the young Stamatov re- 
turned to Bulgaria as a boy of fourteen to have his first experi- 
ence of life in his father's country. He entered the military school 
and became an officer in the Bulgarian army, but, disliking the 
discipline and routine of army life, he resigned and studied law. 


124 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

He soon became a judge, but before long he retired and hence- 
forth lived in Sofia and devoted himself to literature until his 
death in 1942. 

In his early youth he had naturally become acquainted with 
the classics of Russian literature, especially Pushkin and Ler- 
montov. He was also an ardent reader of Byron and Heine. 
His knowledge of these writers induced him to become a poet, 
and he published one poem in 1890. However, he soon shifted 
his interest to prose, an area in which he was also familiar with 
the works of the Russian writers of the ninteenth century. He 
published his first story, Why the Zagorovs are Happy in 
Thought, in 1893, and from that time he gave up all thoughts 
of poetry and concentrated on prose works, which appeared in 
all of the leading Bulgarian periodicals. In 1905 he published a 
collected volume of some of his works, a small volume of Sketches 
in 1915. In 1929 he planned to reissue a complete collection of his 
stories, but he failed to carry out his design. 

Unlike most of the Bulgarian prose writers, Stamatov dealt 
almost exclusively with the urban population, especially of the 
smaller cities which he knew from his service as a judge. Sande 
Klicharski typifies Stamatov's method of description, as he pic- 
tures the galling monotony of the sleepy little city which grad- 
ually, with its seductive calm, poisons even the most strenuous 
and the most ambitious. The story depicts a judge, Sande Kli- 
charski, who is so overwhelmed by his environment that he has 
on his table no pencil or ink, no books, merely a pitcher of water, 
a comb, and a brush for his clothes. It is a picture of spiritual 
desolation made worse by the fact that the victim is completely 
unaware of his intellectual disintegration. 

In the same way Stamatov studies the development of Sofia. 
His stories reveal the many-faceted life of the city from the 
time of the liberation and its growth from a quiet town to a 
great city, the capital of the country. Many of his stories deal 
with the artistic life of the capital with artists as the main char- 
acters. It is a curious fact that in a large number of his stories 
the name is taken from the leading character, man or woman, 
whose life is twisted out of its expected course by the force of 

Bulgarian Prose and Drama 125 

Stamatov is profoundly pessimistic as well as amoralistic in 
his depiction of his characters, for he takes an almost malicious 
joy in describing the sins and the frailties of his heroes. This 
attitude is especially marked in the treatment of his women, 
who cannot seem to accept the bounds that life has imposed 
upon them, whether in marriage or the family, and seek new 
fields in which they can dabble. But always his leading figure 
is an active and powerful individual, yearning for the satisfac- 
tion of some ideal and only too willing to talk about it at length, 
like Stamatov himself. Still, his distinguishing feature is his 
knowledge of the human heart which he analyzes in a few deft 

Stamatov was much influenced by the methods of the great 
Russian prose writers, whom he knew thoroughly. He was also 
influenced by the French, especially Flaubert, Balzac and Zola. 
He introduced Naturalism into Bulgarian literature and, like 
Zola, he stopped at no detail to lay bare the psychological 
motives of his characters. He is still the great Bulgarian de- 
lineator of urban life. None of his predecessors or successors has 
known so thoroughly this subject which profoundly interested 
him. He illustrates all aspects of life and all classes of the city 
population from the stupid and repulsive bureaucrats to the 
idealistic artists, people in all degrees of wealth and poverty, 
but always he looks for and finds the secret spring which gives 
the keynote to their reason for existence and their being what 
they are. It is small wonder that with his intensive preoccupa- 
tion with psychology, Stamatov never became a really popular 
author. He was too far removed from the general run of the 
literature and from that lyric touch that made Vazov's stories 
so successful. 

In this he is very different from the other leading prose writer 
of the same period, Elin Pelin, who primarily pictured the 
older Bulgarian village life and its disintegration under the im- 
pact of the modern changes. Elin Pelin (his real name was 
Dimitar Ivanov) was born in the village of Saylovo, region of 
Sofia, in 1878. He left the gymnasium in the fifth class to become 
a teacher in a country school in a small village, the type of 
existence which he had always loved and admired and from 

126 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

which he drew his inspiration. He later tried to complete his 
education but could not pass the sixth grade. He was rejected 
for the Art Academy and so remained a teacher and writer. 
He spent his life defending the populism of the Bulgarian 
Teachers' Association and reflecting the thoughts and aims of 
those idealists who went into the villages and bore without 
complaint the hardships and miseries of the life of a country 
teacher in an almost uneducated community. He died, respected 
and admired, in 1949. 

For these teachers he published for some time a quasi-peri- 
odical, The Village Conversation, for which he wrote most of 
the articles himself. He was finally obliged to abandon the pub- 
lication because of the lack of subscribers. He published many of 
his best stories in this periodical. He issued his early works under 
his own name, but in 1898 he published a poem signed with the 
name Elin Pelin. This poem, on the death of Levski, appeared 
in the Memorial Volume on the twenty-fifth anniversary of 
Levski's death. From this time on he used the pen-name con- 

In 1904 he published a volume of his collected works and in 
1906 a second volume. During this period he also brought out 
Ashes of My Cigar, a small volume of whimsical poems and gro- 
tesques, and he followed this with Ashes of My Cigarette, a col- 
lection of similar whimsical stories and poems. In his collection 
of 1906 he included several stories and poems that show the in- 
fluence of Nekrasov and Yavorov and also an excellent transla- 
tion of Edgar Allen Poe's Raven. 

Thus Elin Pelin succeeded in combining many of the best 
features of the older Bulgarian prose with a touch of symbolism 
and of the newer techniques which were being introduced into 
the contemporary poetry. 

His next collection, A Bouquet for a Hero, came during the 
period of World War I. This consists of a series of war stories, 
but, again, Elin Pelin did not resort either to condemnation 
or praise of war. He maintained his own ideals and used his 
pen for the consolation of his fellow citizens. Through it all 
he remained a pure artist, but one with a deep feeling for the 
needs of his people. He differed from many of the older writers 

Bulgarian Prose and Drama 127 

who allowed their indignation and feeling for social justice to 
get the better of them and who chose all their themes from the 
baser side of human nature. 

Another important part of his work was his writings for chil- 
dren, and he published many poems and stories attuned to a 
child's mind and range of interests. In his time he was supreme 
in this field, and his works for children have become classics 
in Bulgarian. 

In 1928, after years of silence, he published still another col- 
lection, Black Rose. The very title was symbolic of eternity. Ex- 
ternally the volume seemed to show the influence of Baudelaire 
and Poe, but behind this exterior there is the definite portrait 
of Elin Pelin himself with his high regard for humanity, his 
whimsical moods and his deep knowledge of the thoughts and 
reactions of the Bulgarian peasant. 

In his story, The Earth, he traces the influence of the land 
upon Bulgarian psychology. A rich chorbadji, Enyo Kunshin, 
in his quest for land and money abandons his first love to marry 
a rich girl. Then he wants his brother's inheritance, and when 
Ivan refuses to hand it over, he tries to kill him but only succeeds 
in making him deaf and dumb. The crime is never discovered, 
but it preys upon Enyo's mind. He turns to drink, loses all his 
property, and finally dies a miserable death in the home of his 
first love who has forgiven him and in her happiness with her 
husband takes pity on the poor wretch. After his death, his body 
is left in the church with a lighted candle in his dead hands. 
This candle falls over and burns his entire body. This is a sym- 
bolist tale, but the emphasis, as in all of Elin Pelin's work, is 
not on the social problems involved but on the psychological 
development of his characters, an element not stressed in the 
older authors. 

Elin Pelin realized as did few of the writers of his day that 
conditions in Bulgaria were rapidly changing. Education was 
penetrating the villages and the old patriarchal order was pass- 
ing. There were new methods of production, new wants of the 
villagers to be supplied, new responsibilities for them to assume. 
He considered it his task to picture the psychology of those 
changes without touching upon the general questions concern- 

128 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

ing whether the changes were being effected in the best possible 
way or were for better or worse. As a result although he super- 
ficially continued the old tradition of village tales, in reality, 
he introduced many new notes into the literature, notes drawn 
from the modern writers of the world but passed through the 
prism of his own spirit, which adapted them to the Bulgarian 
mind and heart. 

His best work, like that of most of his generation, was done 
before the period of storm and stress which opened with the 
Balkan Wars of 1912. His character and style were already 
formed, and he proceeded during the post-war period to develop 
his qualities still further without adding significant changes 
or allowing his spirit to be dulled by the adverse conditions 
around him. 

Bulgarian drama passed through the same stages of develop- 
ment, as the amateur groups in the various important cities 
gradually became more and more professional and able to 
handle not only the plays based on the local scenes and tra- 
ditions but also the masterpieces of world drama. In 1904 Ivan 
Shishmanov, as Minister of Education, took the first steps for 
the formation of a National Theatre. The theatre was opened 
January 3, 1907 with a special play written for it by Vazov and 
the performance of one act of Drumev's Ivanku. 

This was symptomatic of the course of the Bulgarian drama. 
The historical plays of the early writers and their comedies 
based upon amusing examples of corruption and ignorance in 
village life were summed up and developed by Vazov, who was 
and remained the most popular of the dramatic writers. Yet this 
style degenerated all too often into melodrama or into saccharine 
performances like those of Evgeniya Mars (1878-1945), which 
were popular in their day. 

A little later the dramatists began to feel the influences of 
Ibsen and the newer psychological drama which sought to pre- 
sent more complicated situations and to explain the psychologi- 
cal motives that urged individuals to step off the beaten track 
even at the risk of producing their own downfall and unhappi- 
ness. Among the authors of this period was Ivan Kirikov (1878- 
1936). Thus in The Lark (1906) the sober young botanist Strym- 

Bulgarian Prose and Drama 129 

nev is led, against the advice of his solid wife and everyone else, 
by a young, adventurous and aspiring student, Danila, to attempt 
the ascent of a mountain so as to rise to the heights of ecstasy. 
The couple are overwhelmed in a mountain storm and while 
Strymnev succeeds in rescuing his friend, Danila, she dies in a 
monastery from her experiences and he resumes his earthbound 
but respectable and normal existence. 

Another writer of this group is Ana Karima (1872-1948), the 
wife of one of the liberal socialist leaders of the day. In her 
drama, Awakening (1902), she pictures a young and ambitious 
woman trying to get out of the rut in which life has placed her. 
Yet, unable to leave because of her love for her young daughter, 
she remains in an environment which she despises but which she 
still feels a certain satisfaction in keeping. 

From this period we can see the gradual development of that 
style of Modernistic thinking which was introduced by Pencho 
Slaveykov and developed by Yavorov and Todorov with their 
tendencies to oppose the artist to the crowd which has little 
appreciation of the artistic or psychological needs of the able 
individual. This was an idea that had become familiar during 
the preceding decades in the countries of western Europe and in 
Russia, but it was a novelty for the Bulgarian peasants, who had 
long realized the problem but had never put it into words under 
the pressure of the needs of the liberation and the difficulties 
of establishing the new independent state. 

Thus step by step in every form of literature the ideas and 
ideals of European literature began to penetrate into Bulgarian 
reality. By 1914 the process had definitely triumphed, and Bul- 
garian literature in all its forms was ready to participate actively 
in the general development of European literature as an equal. 
Then there commenced the period of disaster, which seriously 
checked the national development and warped it in many ways. 


The Period of Discouragement 

Bulgarian hopes for union with a free Macedonia grew even 
higher in 1912. In that year the country made an alliance with 
Serbia, Greece and Montenegro for the First Balkan War against 
the Ottoman Empire. By previous agreement, in case of Turkish 
defeat, Bulgaria was to receive a liberated Macedonia as part of 
her territory. The war was successful and the allied powers won 
all their objectives including the city of Odrin up to the 
Chataldja lines near Constantinople. Then the rivalry between 
the Great Powers (the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria- 
Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente of Great Britain, 
France and Russia) for the control of the Balkans was renewed. 
The Great Powers agreed on the creation of an independent 
Albania at the expense of Serbia and Greece. These countries 
to recompense themselves made further demands on Bulgaria. 

As a result, in 1913 the Second Balkan War broke out. In this 
war Bulgaria was opposed by all her former allies and also 
by Turkey and Romania. Bulgaria, defeated, was not only de- 
prived of the fruits of her victories in the First Balkan War 
but was also compelled to cede to Romania the Southern Do- 
brudja, which she had held since 1878. 

While the country was smarting over this defeat, World War I 
commenced between the two coalitions of Great Powers. Be- 
cause of her geopolitical location Bulgaria found herself in a 
tragic position. The war aims of the two alliances favored the 
involvement of Bulgaria in the penultimate phase of European 
imperialism. Germany, the actual leader of the Triple Alliance, 
elaborated the idea of Mitteleuropa along with a plan for build- 
ing a railroad directly from Berlin to Bagdad and the Persian 


The Period of Discouragement 131 

Gulf. This would have created for her a direct commercial route 
by land to the Asian market and eliminated the effects of the 
British control of Gibraltar and Suez. Bulgaria was on the direct 
route of this railroad and Germany made glowing promises to 
her for her support and held out the prospect of a great market 
for her agricultural products. 

On the other hand the Triple Entente considered Bulgaria 
as the stepping stone and key for the entrance of Russia into 
Constantinople. One group of Bulgarian politicians strongly 
favored alliance with the Entente, but the liberals remembered 
their previous experiences with Russia and feared that the vic- 
tory of Russia would mean the end of Bulgarian independence. 
In addition to this Russian support had been given so gener- 
ously to Serbia and Montenegro that the Bulgarians saw them- 
selves endangering all their major interests by the support of 
Russia. Also the Entente policy toward Greece was at least prob- 
lematical. It was therefore not too difficult for Tsar Ferdinand 
to push Bulgaria into the war on the side of the Triple Alliance, 
once neutrality became very difficult. 

By 1918 the growing power of the Triple Entente, aided by 
the United States, despite the Russian collapse began to create 
doubts of ultimate German victory in the minds of the Bulgar- 
ians. When in the last phase of the war the Anglo-French troops 
broke the Bulgarian-German lines north of Salonika, Bulgaria 
sued for peace. Riots broke out all over the country. Tsar 
Ferdinand was compelled to abdicate in favor of his son Boris 
III, and after a short period when the Bulgarian malcontents 
tried to establish a republic, an Agrarian cabinet was formed 
under the rule of Tsar Boris. 

The leader of the Agrarians, Alexander Stamboliyski, was 
the idol of the peasants and a strong supporter of peasant rule. 
In fact he was the founder of the Green International, the 
organization of the peasants of all the central and east European 
countries. To strengthen himself, however, he accepted the help 
of the small urban Bulgarian Communist group, the extreme 
Marxists who had passed under the influence of Lenin after the 
October Revolution of 1917. Many of Stamboliyski's measures 
in the agrarian sphere and his efforts to establish good relations 

132 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

between Bulgaria and her neighbors displeased the conservative 
and military classes. His efforts at administration also annoyed 
many of the intellectual groups, who felt that he did not give 
them enough influence and subjected them to galling restric- 
tions. On June 8 and 9, 1923 his government was overthrown by 
a military-reactionary group, and Stamboliyski was killed. A 
new conservative government was set up under Prof. A. Tsankov, 
and a conservative reign of terror started. Tsar Boris finally 
succeeded in putting an end to what was almost civil war. 
Tsankov resigned and a new conservative government, less ex- 
treme, took its place. Order was gradually restored, although 
among the peasants there continued much hidden opposition, 
which the Communists tried in every way to fan into open strug- 
gle. Cabinets were made and fell without any reason, and finally 
in 1934 Tsar Boris adopted an authoritarian policy dubbed by 
his opponents as fascist, since the Tsar had married an Italian 
princess who was the granddaughter of King Nicholas of Mon- 
tenegro. Yet, although powerless, the dissolved political parties 
continued to have their almost open machinery, and their lead- 
ers were represented in the more or less handpicked National 
Assembly. It was against this background that the Bulgarian 
writers after World War I were compelled to work and function, 
in an era of national discouragement and pessimism which had 
replaced the glowing optimism of the pre-war years. 

Most of the men who now began to make their reputations 
had been born in the eighteen eighties and nineties. Some of 
them had begun to write before the First Balkan War, but all of 
them achieved their fullness of reputation only in the period 
after the war and during or after the civil disturbances. They 
were young enough when these disturbances began, to reflect the 
various moods of the Bulgarian people, each in his own way. 

The exception is perhaps the greatest of modern Bulgarian 
lyric poets, Dimcho Debelyanov. Like the poet Michael Lermon- 
tov in Russian literature, he finished his life's course before the 
men of his own generation were fully mature. The fifty poems 
which he left in his short life have been applauded and acclaimed 
since by all sections of Bulgarian thought, including the Com- 
munists, although they have shown some hesitation about it. 

The Period of Discouragement 133 

Debelyanov was born in 1887 in Koprivshtitsa of a ruined 
family. He was left an orphan at the age of nine but somehow 
he got an education in Plovdiv and Sofia. He was compelled 
to make a living as best he could as translator, proofreader, and 
official of the lower grades. He was always without funds and 
lived under the most adverse conditions. He took part in the 
Balkan and World Wars, and he was finally killed in battle in 
1916 at the age of twenty-nine. It was one of the saddest mo- 
ments for Bulgarian literature when this promising poet was 
removed from the scene, but he had already produced enough 
so that his reputation after his death continued to grow. 

It is easy to call Debelyanov a Symbolist, for that term had 
come into favor in Bulgaria through the later works of Yavorov 
and Todorov. However, Debelyanov was more than that for he 
was a natural lyric poet with only the philosophy that came 
from a full realization of his own talent. It is true that he wrote 
a few poems criticizing the policy of the Tsar, but they were 
only incidental to the zeal and energy which he poured out in 
his reflections on his own life and aspirations. To him beauty 
was everything, a beauty which involved not only the things 
of the spirit but the things of the flesh. Debelyanov was hungry 
for life, life in all its varied manifestations, whether in wine, 
women or thought. It gave his poetry a fullness, a richness, and 
a sincerity that those poets could not have who worked out their 
ideals and their methods by thought and careful effort. Debel- 
yanov threw himself into the act of living, and his natural talents 
did the rest. It is easy to say that under the conditions of his 
life there could have been no good outcome for him, if he had 
lived. He knew the sufferings of his people, he knew the hard- 
ships of war, he did not thrill only to patriotic slogans but 
poured out exactly his own feelings, his own desires, and he did 
it so exquisitely as a real poet that he achieved in the few years 
of his life a genuine immortality. Perceiving the evil of the 
world around him, he drew from it not a feeling of despair but 
a consciousness of his own spiritual capacity which led him 
to an unmystical mysticism as to the essence of life and an 
assertion of his own will to live. 

Debelyanov died before the new generation was fairly devel- 

134 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

oped. This generation, largely in the name of Symbolism, de- 
veloped a phenomenon previously almost unknown in Bulgaria, 
the growth of literary groups gathered around some literary 
journal and guided by certain critics and theoreticians. There 
were three of these that flourished in the twenties. The oldest 
was the Zlatorog group (the Golden Horn), clustered around a 
journal of that name and guided by Vladimir Vasilev and Pro- 
fessor Boyan Penev. This group placed great emphasis on the 
technical form of literary works and aimed to continue the tra- 
dition of Pencho Slaveykov and Yavorov. 

The second group was Hyperion, which was started somewhat 
later. Its leading critic was Bojan Angelov, and its great ex- 
ponent and editor was the symbolist poet Todor Trayanov. At 
first this group tried to express still more forcefully than the 
Zlatorog the progressive movements in Bulgarian literature, but 
later it broadened its field as some of its members gradually 
changed their artistic position quite definitely and some of 
them, such as Lyudmil Stoyanov, drifted toward leftist ideas in 

Another schism from the Zlatorog group was that of the writer 
and critic Konstantin Galabov and Chavdar Mutafov. Both of 
these men having studied extensively in Germany, they at- 
tempted to introduce into literature a form of post-war German 
Expressionism. They broke away and formed their own group, 
Strelets (The Archer), and their example was followed on the 
eve of World War II by still other associations, each of them 
meeting in its own special coffee house or restaurant. All of 
these, like similar formations in France and the other Slavic 
countries, found it necessary to initiate their proceedings with 
a series of formal literary credos and statements of artistic prin- 
ciples which were very alien to the more artless, even if talented, 
critics of the period before the Balkan Wars. 

Side by side with this division into schools came two other 
phenomena which were characteristic of the development of 
Bulgarian Symbolism in its various degrees. The first of these 
was preoccupation with mysticism which had been singularly 
lacking in the Bulgarian writers of the period before the Balkan 
Wars. In Bulgaria it tended to take the form of an interest in 

The Period of Discouragement 135 

the ancient Bogomils, that heretical, anti-governmental sect 
of the early centuries which was, at least in some of its forms, 
severely dualistic. Their outstanding modern exponent was Ivan 
Grozev (b. 1872), an otherwise undistinguished writer. He wrote 
and produced in 1922 in the Bulgarian National Theatre a play, 
The Golden Cup, which extolled the virtue of the Bogomils 
and their spiritual doctrines as opposed to the coldly formal 
patriarch and the corrupt emperor of the Byzantine court, prob- 
ably Alexis Komnenos, in the twelfth century. Here the Bulgar- 
ian Bogomil leader resists the power of the evil spirit, Satanail, 
and finally, at the moment of his execution, slays by mystical 
power the corrupt emperor, while the people remain silent as at 
the end of Pushkin's Boris Godunov. The play was an appeal 
to the national traditions, but the methods used were those 
of a mystic and believer in mysticism. 

We can see in this same work another important feature which 
had already appeared in the later works of Vazov: a stress upon 
the past, upon Bulgarian history, especially the history of the 
First Bulgarian Empire. This was a trend that was greatly over- 
emphasized in the late thirties, when for a few years Bulgarian 
literature almost turned into a glorification of the past and of 
the former Bulgarian rule in those territories which the mod- 
ern Bulgarians claimed for their own. This overgrown and over- 
stressed sense of history was one of the great factors that led 
Bulgaria again in World War II to ally itself with the Axis 
powers without considering the possibility that such a policy 
might lead to another disaster. 

Undoubtedly the outstanding Symbolist of this period was 
Nikolay Liliyev (b. 1886 in Stara Zagora). He studied in the 
Commercial School in Svishtov, and from there he received a 
scholarship to Paris. After teaching in the commercial schools 
of Sofia and Svishtov, he was sent to Vienna and Munich. For 
a while he worked in the National Theatre and later returned 
to the commercial gymnasium in Varna, but his heart was always 
in Paris. Yet even in Paris he was unable to identify himself 
with the life around him. Night and solitude were his favorite 
themes, as we can see from two collections of poems, Birds in 
the Night and Spots of Moonlight. His verse is delicate and 

136 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

refined, but while he had a great influence upon later poets, he 
did not have the robustness or clarity that attracted readers. He 
was a poet's poet in a narrower sense than any of his predecessors. 

Todor Trayanov, who was born in T. Pazardjik in 1882, 
studied in Sofia and then in Austria and Germany. He began to 
write before the Balkan Wars but he found himself in his Bul- 
garian Ballads (1921) and later in Romantic Ballads and The 
Freed Man, and others of his mature works. As editor of Hy- 
perion he had the opportunity to display his gifts of imagery 
and of phraseology but again, as in the case of Liliyev, his works 
had little essential personality. They are far too often mere col- 
lections of beautiful phrases, although they are perhaps more 
comprehensible and clear than are those of Liliyev. There is in 
many of them a mistiness and a lack of clarity which have not 
been characteristic of the Bulgarians, and although Trayanov 
is clearly a master, the number of his poems on which his im- 
mortality can depend is rather limited. He died in 1944. 

In this period, too, we find that women began to play an im- 
portant role in Bulgarian literature. One of these was Dora 
Gabe born in Dobrych in 1886 and reared in the Dobrudja 
which Bulgaria lost in 1913. After studying in Varna and then 
in Geneva and Grenoble, she returned to Bulgaria. She pub- 
lished her first collection, Violets, in 1908 and then in 1928 
The Way of the Earth, which contains her mature work. The 
latter is far removed from the mild romanticism of The Violets 
which came out in the happy days before the disturbances. It 
reflects her disillusionment with the world and the general 
course of events, including her own fate. However, it is deeply 
poetic, and Dora Gabe can well claim to be one of the leading 
poets of the Zlatorog group. In addition to her poetry she pub- 
lished a series of sketches on her life in the Dobrudja, and she 
has been one of the most prolific writers of children's literature 
on a high plane. 

Still another poetess of high literary rank is Elisaveta Bagry- 
ana, who was born in Sliven and commenced to publish only 
in 1919. Her first collection, The Eternal and the Holy, which 
appeared in 1927, and The Star of the Sailor (1931) reveal her 
deeply sensitive nature which had survived the difficulties that 

The Period of Discouragement 137 

she had during the height of the troubles when she was expelled 
from her position in the government service because of the jour- 
nals to which she had been contributing. Later she joined the 
Zlatorog group, and her real literary ability was recognized. 

A third poetess of high merit was Mara Belcheva, who has 
maintained her independence and has published several col- 
lections of poems marked by a deep spirit of philosophical 

Another member of Zlatorog who developed an original, even 
if unclear, style was Nikolay Raynov. He was born in Tirnovo 
in 1888 and after studying abroad became a professor of the 
History of Art in the Art Academy. This had a marked effect 
upon his work, for he published many articles and books in his 
special field. At times he wrote such verse as The Bogomil 
Legends which appeared in 1912. Practically all his writings, 
in verse or prose, reflect his deep absorption in the past of 
Bulgaria, which is evident in such works as Visions from Old 
Bulgaria (1918) and The Book of the Tsars (1918). Soon after 
writing these, he turned his eyes to the East as in The Eyes of 
Arabia. Everywhere he invokes the past with a mystical fervor 
and treats his subjects in a symbolistic or a naturalistic manner. 
His treatment of love varies from a mystical admiration for its 
spiritual quality to an equally mystical presentation of its most 
fleshly aspects. Yet, despite all of his variations, it is hard to 
know what Raynov really thinks. He cloaks his thought under 
a mass of symbols, and his fertile pen conceals the essence of 
that reality which he avoids preaching in clear language. 

Another writer of especial interest is Georgi Raichev, who 
was born in 1882 in the region of Stara Zagora where he received 
the bulk of his education. Raichev early commenced to write 
poetry, but he abandoned this for prose. He published his first 
story, Travellers, in the journal of Strashimirov. After World 
War I he transferred to the Zlatorog group and became one of 
its foremost representatives. In 1918 he published two auto- 
biographical stories, The Little World and Tsaritsa Neranza. 
Later he edited a volume called simply Stories (1923). This 
was followed by The Song of the Mountain (1928) and Legends 
of the Tsars (1931). In all of these Raichev showed that he 

138 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

was primarily interested in the psychology of individuals who 
were almost pathological in their actions. He seeks for unusual 
features in their lives and tries to explain them in psychological 
terms. At his best, as in The Sin, he has produced the best psy- 
chological literature in modern Bulgaria. In his most successful 
stories, although he has stressed the pathological elements, he 
has shown real sympathy and understanding in his analysis of 
his characters. 

Undoubtedly the most talented prose writer of this period 
was Iordan Iovkov, who was born in 1884 in the village of 
Jeravna and brought up in the Dobrudja on the border be- 
tween Bulgaria and Romania. He completed the gymnasium 
in Sofia and then for some years taught in the village schools 
of the Dobrudja, where he learned to know all the details of the 
life of the people and worked out his own philosophy of lit- 
erature. Iovkov stands clearly in the tradition of village litera- 
ture, but, having no political axe to grind, he went beyond this 
as it had been practiced previously. That was the chief feature 
of his two volumes called War Stories and five volumes, Prose 
Tales, as well as his three dramas. No Bulgarian writer on the 
village has been so able to maintain an artistic calm in his 
description of the peasants. Iovkov tries to understand without 
condemning, and in stories like Ivan Belin he describes the peas- 
ant shepherd who has lived his life in the open, far from human- 
ity, and has never learned to hate, even when wrong is done to 
him. It is this lack of moral judgment that separates Iovkov 
from most of his contemporaries. Whether he is describing the 
reactions of the Bulgarian soldier in war time or the life of the 
unfortunate peasant, he looks at his subject with the calm 
certainty that the qualities of man are universal and that every 
man has not only his good but his weak side. He tries to stress 
neither. He merely pictures all aspects in admirable prose. His 
refusal to make judgments has won the dislike of all those 
classes of the population which, each in its own way, have tried 
to bend literature to a social and political program. Such a 
program meant nothing to Iovkov, and he paid as little atten- 
tion to one as to another of them. He contented himself with 
being what he was, a pure artist not losing himself in his enthu- 

The Period of Discouragement 139 

siasms but observing and understanding what goes on in the 
minds and hearts of his characters. When he died in 1937, he left 
a heritage to Bulgarian literature which was almost universally 
admired by all those readers and critics who placed good writ- 
ing and human sympathy higher than efforts to reform humanity 
in one way or another. He possessed in high degree that feature, 
common to the greatest artists, of viewing life warmly, impar- 
tially, and sympathetically in all its manifestations. 

A writer of a quite unusual type was Dimitar Shishmanov, 
the son of Professor Ivan S. Shishmanov and the grandson of the 
Ukrainian professor in Sofia, Mykhaylo Drahomaniv. He was 
born in Sofia in 1889 and received the education that we would 
expect for a son of an intellectual family. Following his gradua- 
tion in law from the University of Geneva, he occupied a large 
number of responsible political posts. For a while after World 
War I he was in charge of the Commission on Reparations. 
After passing through various ministries, he was, on the eve 
of World War II, Bulgarian Minister in Athens, a very diffi- 
cult post but one which he filled to the general satisfaction of 
both the Bulgarians and the Greeks. At the end of World 
War II he was sufficiently prominent to be singled out for the 
vengeance of the Communists as an outstanding conservative. 
He was accordingly executed along with the leaders who had 
led Bulgaria into the war and then sought cooperation with 
the Western powers. 

He began to write before World War I but he had a marked 
outburst of productivity after the War when in quick succes- 
sion he published High Life (1920), Deputy Stoyanov (1920), 
and The Rebel (1921), long novels in which he sought to work 
out the psychological basis for the three important features 
of the Bulgarian life of the day, sententiousness, bureaucracy 
and bribery. There was a pause in his literary work, and then 
in 1924 he issued A Strange Band and even later a drama, The 
Nightmare (1929). In these later works, unlike the first series, 
he depicted unusual and odd characters, whom he tried to under- 
stand in all the manifold ramifications of their being. He also 
tried to assimilate and explain in Bulgarian the most diverse 
features of modern European life. His keen and often whimsical 

140 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

character was shown again on the eve of World War II in his 
handling of the Greeks in Shadows on the Acropolis, one of the 
best tributes to the Greek genius in any language, with only one 
story that might be construed as favoring the Bulgarian side of 
the argument. In this highly whimsical series of sketches, he pic- 
tures the Wandering Jew Ahasver (Ahasuerus) as a young man 
with a weary and aged soul wandering around Athens and point- 
ing out the crudities of the modern world and their correspond- 
ing features in antiquity. Thus the narrator is shocked by the 
floodlights on the Parthenon, only to have Ahasuerus bring up 
Phidias to explain that he had attempted the same thing with 
huge bonfires, but it was not so successful or brilliant. So, point 
by point, Ahasuerus makes his argument that the new is but an 
extension of the old in both its virtues and vices and can be 
interpreted in the same terms as antiquity. Shishmanov carried 
this attitude into his critical work, both in literature and music, 
with the same readiness to defend the new when it was proceed- 
ing on rational and practicable lines. It was this same regard 
for the achievements of European culture as a whole that guided 
him in his political and diplomatic activity and led, under Com- 
munism, to his untimely death. In a sense he was the best prod- 
uct of the highest traditions and types of Bulgarian culture in 
its full development as a part of the European world. 

The leading novelist of this period was Dobri Nemirov who 
was born in Ruse in 1882 and commenced to write on the eve of 
World War I. His first stories were halting as if he were not sure 
exactly what he wished to depict, but he had faith in himself and 
his own powers and step by step he proceeded to master his 
theme: the development of Bulgaria during his own lifetime. 
Year by year he published new novels which met with wider and 
wider favor. Some of them, like The Brothers, show the con- 
flicts in the Bulgarian village immediately after the liberation. 
In others he brought this same subject up to date and described 
the confusion and the doubts that possessed many of his contem- 
poraries. He explored the same themes, but not so successfully, 
in his plays, which had the same solid virtues as his novels: 
an understanding of the Bulgarian mind and the Bulgarian sit- 
uation and a capacity for expressing his results in clear and 

The Period of Discouragement 141 

fluent Bulgarian. Then in the thirties he, too, yielded to the his- 
torical movement and in The Angel-Voiced Singer he pictured 
a young and innocent Bulgarian with a wonderful voice at the 
corrupt court of the Komneni emperors in Constantinople and 
contrasted the manners of the Bulgarians with those of the 
Byzantines to the disadvantage of the latter. His personality 
corresponded to his work, for he was a sincere and unassuming 
individual who was fully conscious of what he was trying to 
accomplish for his people. He was in a way the best continuator 
of the traditions of Vazov, although it was a Vazov brought 
up to date and able to see the modern point of view and the 
modern problems. He died in 1945 in Sofia. 

Another writer who understood and tried to explain the 
bloody events of the post-World War I period was Konstantin 
Konstantinov who was born in Sliven in 1890. He studied law 
in Sofia and later became a judge and an adviser to the State 
Bank. He accompanied this career with literary work and pub- 
lished a number of stories and novels such as Blood (1933), in 
which he brought out the distinctive features of the attempted 
revolutionary movements after World War I and also the ideo- 
logical bases behind them. He pictured the dying provincial 
cities after World War I under the stress and strain of the civil 
disturbances, and the influence of love encouraging a man to 
conquer or to die. Konstantinov expressed his message without 
resorting to the petty devices of propaganda or injecting his 
own ideas so as to tip the balance. A relatively minor author, 
he is still a credit and more to the causes in which he believed 
and which he served. 

Another man who deserves more than passing mention is 
S. L. Kostov (1880-1939). Born in Sofia and educated both in 
Sofia and Vienna, he later became the director of the Ethnologi- 
cal Museum in Sofia for which he published many excellent 
works on the Bulgarian national costume. Yet, he is known in 
literature primarily for his comedies which were among the most 
popular pieces in the repertoire of the Bulgarian National 
Theatre. Kostov was a natural comedian and his serious dramas 
did not harmonize with his whimsical temperament. His best 
plays were The Gold Mine and Golemanov. In the first of these 

142 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

he satirizes the greed for wealth of certain individuals like the 
retired public servant, Khadjiyev, who risks his entire sav- 
ings in buying his way into a gold mine. He has been swindled 
by conscienceless rascals who have salted the mine, but he is so 
convinced that a fortune is his that he ruins his entire career 
and makes himself thoroughly ridiculous. Golemanov is on the 
same general theme, but here the hero is a prominent deputy 
who stops at no risks or chicanery to secure for himself a post 
as a Minister with all the prerequisites that such a post provides. 
In both of these plays Rostov made fun of many of the accepted 
features of Bulgarian life after World War I. He created syn- 
thetic personalities drawn from his own experiences with the 
great and the near-great of Sofia. Although he undoubtedly 
had certain individuals as his models, no one could be offended 
when he pointed out the vices of which they themselves were 
fully conscious. His light humor and his keen satire of the 
Sofia of his day were something new in Bulgarian literature, 
a further development of the old Bay-Ganyu, and he was really 
the founder and the most distinguished exponent of Bulgarian 
comedy of character. 

There were many other authors of this period both in prose 
and verse who rose above the level of mediocrity. The majority 
of them were relatively simple men, well educated, well aware 
of the nature of the Bulgarian people, who illustrated in their 
works the national character and the Bulgarian landscape. Such 
were Ivan Rakitin (1885-1934), Damyan Kalfov, a prose writer 
and a writer of comedies (b. 1887) and Racho Stoyanov whose 
drama, The Masters, had a great success. Still another was 
Stiliyan Chilingirov (b. 1881) whose poetry won him consid- 
erable fame and who developed still further the Bulgarian- 
Ukrainian literary relations. 

There were several excellent critics such as Iordan Badev, 
who was attached to the National Theatre and wrote exten- 
sively for some of the best critical reviews in Bulgaria. He re- 
mained free from all the cliches of the various literary groups, 
and in the Sketches of the Living he spoke his mind freely and 
openly about his contemporaries. So too did Anna Kameneva 
(b. 1894), the daughter of a prominent Bulgarian diplomat. 

The Period of Discouragement 143 

She had many opportunities to travel, and she made herself 
the exponent of British and American literary criticism and 
applied it to Bulgarian literature. Around her clustered all of 
those Bulgarians who were interested in Anglo-American civili- 
zation and culture. 

Another writer who can be mentioned is K. Petkanov (b. 
1891), who published many stories on the Bulgarian countryside 
and who knew the peasants and their life very well, especially 
those in the region of Thrace. He took a prominent part in the 
agitation for the return to Bulgaria of this area where he was 
born. While he was not a first-rate writer, he was not without 
considerable ability. 

Another member of the younger generation was Angel Kara- 
liychev (b. 1902), who early became a member of the Zlatorog 
group. His vague and yet definite stories have much in com- 
mon with expressionism, and in his use of legends both in stories 
for children and for adults he approached the manner of 
Todorov and the latter's way of retelling folktales in a modern 
form. Then there were other writers such as Vladimir Polyanov 
and poets such as Iordan Strubel who were just approaching 
maturity and had not yet found themselves when the storm 
of World War II broke over Europe. 

By early 1939 popular interest had come to center on the his- 
torical school of writing. There were long historical novels such 
as The Angel-Voiced Singer of Dobri Nemirov and many other 
well-known names. There were popular accounts of Bulgar- 
ian history from the earliest times and there were even weekly 
pamphlets, the Bulgarian Historical Library, in which writers 
of all grades of excellence published little sixteen-page stories, 
in a small format, on some phase of Bulgarian history. These 
histories in fictional form were written to express the sorrow 
of the Bulgarian people at their failure to hold and retain those 
parts of the Bulgarian ethnographic territory which they had 
had during the First and Second Bulgarian Empires and had 
won in the First Balkan War. In the feverish atmosphere of 
1938 and 1939, all of these propaganda stories (sometimes well- 
written and sometimes very crude) served to arouse popular 
sentiment, especially among the students, against all of their 

144 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

neighbors without exception, especially Romania because of her 
occupation of the Dobrudja. These little histories helped pave 
the way for Bulgaria's new alliance with Nazi Germany and 
Fascist Italy, the preliminary for the downfall of the regime 
and the ending of the period that had commenced with Father 
Paisi and expanded after the liberation in 1876. 


Toward Communism 

In the preceding chapter we have traced the course of Bul- 
garian literature between the two World Wars. The national 
mood was one of humiliation and later of defiance. The writers 
were largely under the influence of Symbolism and Modernism, 
under the leadership of men who had been trained in the West, 
if they had been abroad. The Russian influence came largely 
from the Russian classics and the Russian Symbolists. The old 
tradition of drawing subjects from peasant life still remained 
strong, even though the leading authors had adopted many of 
the modern methods of working and the newer techniques. 
There was, however, a latent strain of influence exerted by the 
Russian Revolution. 

Marxist philosophy made its appearance in Bulgaria in the 
eighteen nineties largely through the influence of Dimitar 
Blagoyev (1855-1924) who had studied in Russia under the 
early Russian Marxists. He found the Bulgarians very inhospi- 
table to Marxism, because there was but a small urban prole- 
tariat at the time. As in Russia the early Marxists had no mes- 
sage for the peasant population who were desirous of bettering 
their own conditions and of securing more land for their family 
use. There were after the liberation from the Turks no large 
latifundia. The peasants wanted better educational and agricul- 
tural facilities for their own land, and the purely doctrinaire 
teachings of the Marxists with their hostility to God and private 
property left them relatively unmoved. 

Here and there Blagoyev found a few converts but those con- 
verts, when they achieved prominence, much preferred to ally 
themselves with the prevailing trend of peasant Populism which 
inveighed against the usurers, the rich urban families and the 


146 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

upper bourgeoisie, whom in their hearts they secretly envied. 
This was why the criticism of Aleko Konstantinov and his friends 
who made fun of the pretensions of the lesser officials and the 
crudities of society bore such rich fruits and dominated Bulgar- 
ian thought until the Balkan Wars. Even most of Blagoyev's 
admirers adopted a loose definition of socialism that displeased 
his stricter followers. It is safe to say that if the disturbances 
in the Balkans had ceased with the triumph of Bulgaria and 
her allies over the decaying Ottoman Empire, the future of the 
country would have been very different and the democratic 
traditions of the Bulgarians would have borne rich fruit. 

The disasters suffered by Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War 
and World War I completely changed the picture. Popular dis- 
content knew no bounds, and, after the abdication of Tsar 
Ferdinand, his son Tsar Boris III had difficulty in asserting 
his authority. In the meanwhile the Russian Communist Revo- 
lution had taken place. Lenin was in the saddle, and the specta- 
cle of a socialistic-communistic regime governing that great 
neighbor which had so often helped Bulgaria could not fail to 
have its effect. 

When Stamboliyski took power in September, 1918, the peas- 
ants seemed fully to come into their own. They were wearied by 
the three wars which had exhausted the country and had shat- 
tered all of Bulgaria's hopes. They welcomed their leader's at- 
tempt to make peace with their neighbors, even though it meant 
the sacrifice of their national ambitions, especially in Macedonia. 
They also hoped that certain concessions to Bulgaria incorpor- 
ated in the Treaty of Neuilly would be carried into effect by 
the victorious powers. Again, for a moment, there seemed hopes 
for a peaceful settlement. 

Stamboliyski's policy, however, united against him all classes 
of the population. His measures not only alienated the rich 
and the military classes but many of the intelligentsia, and, as 
time passed, they all combined in a single opposition. To add 
to his difficulties, a violent movement developed among the 
Macedonians demanding incorporation with Bulgaria. When 
Stamboliyski did not countenance this, they too joined the 

Toward Communism 147 

Communist agitators came into the country from Russia, 
and toward them he adopted an ambiguous policy. On the one 
hand he used them against the bourgeoisie in the cities and 
supported measures similar to those adopted by the Bolsheviks 
in Russia. On the other hand he checked their activity among 
the peasants, thus arousing their dislikes as he had that of all 
classes except the hard-working Bulgarian peasants. 

The opposition to Stamboliyski finally took definite form 
and a sudden uprising of the military and their supporters on 
June 8 and 9, 1923 overthrew the government. Stamboliyski 
was killed and a reactionary government commenced to rule 
with great brutality but it did not dare to touch his agrarian 
reforms which remained in effect until World War II. It was 
followed by disturbances amounting almost to civil war. Then 
as peace seemed to be coming back, the Communists made an 
attempt to murder Tsar Boris by planting a bomb in the Cathe- 
dral in Sofia. 

This peasant uprising, followed by a distinctively Communist 
movement, furnished the background for those writers who are 
now claimed, with some basis of truth, by the Communists as 
examples of the socially "progressive" Bulgarian literature. These 
writers were then young men who had been fascinated by the 
Communist experiment in Russia and were trying to bring 
about something of the same sort in Bulgaria under very differ- 
ent conditions. Their lives and fate were markedly similar, and, 
behind the Communist praises, we can see the doubts that came 
into the minds of these writers as to whether they were correct 
in their judgments. 

The dean of this group was Dimitar I. Polyanov, who was the 
first Bulgarian author to present socialistic themes in literature 
and was, in fact, the teacher of many of the younger men of 
this group. He commenced to write in 1895 under the influence 
of Blagoyev. For fifty years he continued his activity, and his 
work was commemorated in 1945. Yet, Communist critics do 
not hesitate to say that even he did not appreciate the full mean- 
ing of the Marxist-Leninist teaching, because "he repeated 
esoteric symbolistic phrases which undermined the class strug- 
gle. He speaks of the future in general words, 'the dawn of a 

148 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

free life,' 'the rise of a bright day,' etc." 1 Polyanov was aiming at 
a free society, an ideal existence, and not the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, which was demanded by the course of events. 

His pupil, Khristo Smirnensky (1898-1923), who died in the 
attempted revolution of 1923, was more satisfactory. He started 
his life as a symbolist, "but he quickly saw that war is a misfor- 
tune for the people, although he still did not understand the 
social causes of war." 2 It was only under the example of Soviet 
successes that he really came to appreciate the truth, and then it 
was too late. Khristo Yasenkov (1889-1925) and N. Rumyantsev 
(1896-1925) also made mistakes in their careers, but these were 
natural to the leaders of the Peasant Union, which preached 
"the full independence of the peasant movement." 

Geo Milev, or Georgi Kasabov (1895-1925), is a more inter- 
esting example. It is true that he saw the revolt of 1923 "not 
as an organized struggle of the workers and peasants, guided 
by the Communist Party, but as an elemental revolt of a mass 
aroused to anger." At the same time the Communists admit that 
in his work in the National Theatre he did his best to turn 
the course of the Bulgarian stage into what were, to them, 
socially productive channels. 

This movement, later adopted by Communism, had a strong 
agrarian and idealistic tinge and was in essence a revolt against 
the extremely artificial methods of the modernists and some of 
their Nietzschean views. It was inspired by the national sorrow 
over Bulgaria's defeats, and if the majority of these men had 
not died at the hands of the reactionary parties, they would not 
have received that aureole of martyrdom which has insured their 
survival in Communist Bulgaria. During the period before 
World War II, their memory was treasured by small under- 
ground circles but they found little response among the great 
mass of the reading public. 

A somewhat different case is offered by Lyudmil Stoyanov 
who was born in 1888 and educated partly in Sofia and partly 
in Lviv. Stoyanov has been a prolific writer since 1916 in both 
prose and verse and has passed through a number of stages in 
his long career. He was at first heavily influenced by Symbolism 
and indeed for a while, along with Trayanov, was the editor 

Toward Communism 149 

of Hyperion, but his works always had a leftist orientation. 
With the rise of Nazism and Fascism, he swung very decidedly to 
the left and finally about 1930 more or less definitely allied 
himself with Communism. Still, for several years he did not burn 
his bridges behind him and continued to work in his own vein. 
In fact, in 1934 he published a novel, Stamboliyski the Agrarian 
Apostle, in which he warmly defended the agrarian point 
of view. It is small wonder that some of the literary critics of 
the early thirties found themselves wondering what was the 
real faith of Stoyanov who was publishing his works in journals 
of quite different political camps and adjusting his ideas to 
the medium where he was going to publish. Yet, since the in- 
troduction of Communism into the country, he has become the 
President of the Union of Bulgarian Writers. Now in his old 
age he has the honor of being considered the dean of the Bul- 
garian Communist authors and their most outstanding repre- 
sentative among the older men. 

Another author who may be placed here is S toy an Zagorchinov. 
He is typical of some of the lesser writers of the day. Although 
he commenced to publish before 1912, his first important work 
was the Legends of St. Sofia (1926), a description of the clashes 
between the Bulgarians and the Byzantines in the sixth century. 
The story attracted little attention. It is to be classed rather 
with those imbued by mysticism and religion, but it did show 
the author's absorption in history and prepared the way for his 
later work. His masterpiece, The Last Day, began to appear 
in 1931 after he had worked on it for several years, and it has 
been republished by the Communists. It gives a picture of the 
social clashes between the Tsar and the boyars in the last days 
of the Second Bulgarian Empire before the Turkish conquest. 
The real hero is the semi-mythical hayduk, Momchil, who by 
popular tradition was connected with the family of King 
Marko. Though a simple hayduk, he was in love with a princess. 
The story involves the efforts of the Bulgarians to secure freedom 
from the oppressions of the nobles. While the author is not 
always historically accurate, as in the influence which he ascribes 
to the Bogomils at that period (a favorite theme of the day), 
he mercilessly chastizes the upper classes. In 1943, during the 

150 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

war, he published the Hand of Ilya, a drama on a historical sub- 
ject again much in the manner of his first works. In 1950 he 
reworked it into a novel, The Festival in Boyana. In all of these 
works Zagorchinov showed himself responsive to those chords 
which have been fully exploited by the Communists. 

The same is true of Svetoslav Minkov, who in these years bit- 
terly caricatured the capitalistic world, especially America. His 
works, relatively unimportant when they first appeared, were 
later republished, and Minkov has been declared a successful 
exponent of critical realism on its way to socialist realism. 

Another writer of the same type was Khristyu Belev, whose 
fiftieth birthday has recently been commemorated. By 1932 he 
was associated with Georgi Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Communist 
leader. In 1936 he published his novel, The Break, a work 
which he had written during one of his prison sentences for 
Communist activity in the Balkans. He fought in Spain in the 
International Brigade and in 1937 visited the Soviet Union 
and wrote a book on his experiences. Since the coming of the 
Communists to power, he has become a popular and official 

Thus between the two wars, Bulgarian Communism had 
sunk no real roots in the population. It was usually a feeble 
offshoot from the Agrarian stem and had at its disposal only 
minor authors who attracted little attention from the peasant 
masses or the bulk of the intellectuals. It won a hearing only 
because Russia, the big brother of Bulgaria, was under Com- 
munist rule and many Bulgarians continued to want connec- 
tions with that Slavic country which had helped them in 1876 
and on other occasions. To win that connection, there were 
many who were willing to close their eyes to what was happening 
in the Soviet Union and to view Communism as a typically Rus- 
sian problem exactly as the older men who were fighting for a 
free Bulgaria did not raise questions about what Russia was 
doing at home, so long as the tsars would give help to the Bul- 
garians. This was cleverly realized by the Communists as was 
shown in 1939 when Molotov visited Sofia in connection with 
the showing of the Soviet film, Alexander Nevsky, and devoted 

Toward Communism 151 

a great deal of attention to the monuments to Russia in Bul- 
garia. Not the least of these was the Cathedral of St. Alexander, 
erected after the liberation in memory of the Tsar-Liberator, 
Alexander II, who had done so much for the final liberation of 
Bulgaria in those fateful years after 1876. 


The Communist Period 

World War II, which began in September, 1939, opened 
another tragic period in Bulgarian history and literature. The 
nation, embittered by the defeats of the past and aroused 
by the nationalistic successes of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, 
was only too ready to embark on new adventures that promised 
to accomplish the long postponed satisfaction of the Bulgar- 
ian desires to unify the Bulgarian ethnographic territory and 
to bring under Bulgarian control those lands which had once 
belonged to the First Bulgarian Empire. 

In the years preceding 1939 there had come a slight official 
tolerance of the Soviet regime as a form of the traditional Rus- 
sophile sentiments that were held in certain quarters. The first 
Soviet play, Katayev's A Thousand Troubles, was produced in 
1935. Then came Shvarkin's A Strange Child in 1936 and, dur- 
ing the period of Nazi-Soviet friendship, Platon Krechet by the 
Soviet Ukrainian author, Alexander Korniychuk. All met with 

To some extent Nazi influence grew in Bulgaria. The celebra- 
tion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Univer- 
sity of Sofia (renamed the University of St. Clement of Okhrida) 
was dominated by the Nazis who behaved in the most ludicrous 
fashion possible. Yet, at the same time no one in Sofia doubted 
that there was going to be a Nazi-Soviet alliance against the 
democratic powers, and this gave a considerable free hand to 
the sympathizers with Communism, until the German attack 
upon the Soviet Union in 1941. 

To draw Bulgaria still further into the Nazi net, Germany 
transferred from Romania to Bulgaria the rule over the Do- 


The Communist Period 153 

brudja, a Bulgarian territory, and after the Nazi-Fascist inva- 
sion of Greece and Yugoslavia, allowed the Bulgarians to take 
possession of territory that they desired from those lands. When 
the storm broke in 1941, Bulgaria declared war on the Western 
powers but not on the Soviet Union. This at the time was more 
symbolic than real, for the events of 1941 bade fair to separate 
the country even more decidedly from any contact with the 
Soviets, and there were not lacking those who realized that a 
Bulgarian-Soviet friendship would bring up again that danger 
of Russian colonialism which Tsar Alexander II had tried to 
impose upon Bulgaria after 1877. 

Tsar Boris died mysteriously on August 28, 1943. The Nazi 
tide was already ebbing. The regency for the young Tsar 
Simeon, headed by the Tsar's brother, Prince Kiril, and Prof. 
Bogdan Filov, a great archeologist but an unsuccessful and 
weak statesman, tried to extricate Bulgaria from the Nazi 
clutches as the Soviet armies approached the Bulgarian borders. 
They broke with Germany, approached the Western allies, set 
up a liberal government and then declared war upon Germany. 
It proved of no avail, for the Soviet armies continued to invade 
Bulgaria and seized and executed the members of the regency 
and their chief supporters. The Western allies, still desirous of 
maintaining a unified front with the Soviet Union, did little 
more than register formal protests and accepted Stalin's argu- 
ments for his treatment of the Bulgarians. When the smoke 
cleared away, the so-called Fatherland Front that replaced the 
liberal government, contrary to the Soviet promises to its allies, 
proved to be a unitary Communist government under the control 
of Georgi M. Dimitrov, an old Bulgarian Communist who had 
been "involved" in Germany in the Reichstag fire after the acces- 
sion of Hitler. This government consistently attacked the United 
States. When it proceeded to execute some of the Bulgarian lead- 
ers on the ground that they were American agents, the United 
States broke with the new Bulgarian regime, and Bulgaria 
remained behind the iron curtain, almost as completely sealed 
off from the free world as Albania. 

The Communists at once set to work to remodel the entire 
country on the Russian Soviet pattern. They introduced col- 

154 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

lective farms, commenced a process of rapid enforced industri- 
alization and declared hostile every one and every institution 
in all fields that questioned the superiority of Russian Com- 
munist culture. Henceforth there was to be no one in Bulgaria 
who dared to think on any pattern that was not approved in 

In this atmosphere literature was supposed to be cut to those 
patterns of Socialist Realism that had been approved by Stalin 
and Zhdanov. Free thought and writing became impossible. 
Nearly all of the older and better known authors, who had 
maintained their independence even during the most disturbed 
periods of the last decades, relapsed into silence if they were not 
physically removed from the scene, and only a few authors, like 
Lyudmil Stoyanov, put themselves willingly at the disposal of 
the new regime. Henceforth Bulgarian literature was to be the 
work of the few men who had tried to write against the regime 
of Tsar Boris and the new men whom they intended to train 

The Communists, not satisfied with this, then set themselves 
to rewrite the history of the past. Their easiest task was to fit 
Botev into the new scheme of history. He had always been 
thoroughly in tune with the Russian radicals as well as the radi- 
cals of western Europe, but it may be doubted whether Botev, 
in his wildest moments, would have been satisfied with the 
stifling despotism that was foisted upon the Bulgarian people in 
the name of a People's Democracy. Vazov was more difficult to 
incorporate into the new version of history, for only his early 
works from the time of the liberation, when he welcomed the 
Russian armed forces in Bulgaria, met Communist standards. 
The greatest praise was awarded to those men such as Rakovski, 
who had died before the liberation and who, consequently, had 
taken no part in the complex process of setting up and making 
function a Bulgarian monarchical state. They had kind words for 
the supporters of Stamboliyski and the Agrarians, but they never 
allowed their readers to forget that these men were in their own 
way idealists who understood little or nothing of Marxism, even 
though they had fought and died bravely in the defence of the 
rights of the peasants and the proletariat. They treated them 

The Communist Period 155 

as the Russians had treated the Ukrainian Borotbisty who in the 
nineteen twenties were flattered, used by the Communists, and 
then liquidated when their usefulness was at an end. 

Naturally the translation of the works of Soviet Russian lit- 
erature was carried on with ever increasing speed. It was done 
not only to give the Bulgarians true patterns of Communist 
literature but also to provide occasions for stressing Russian 
accomplishments and the willing assistance of the older brother 
in these critical times. In the period from 1945 to 1950 more 
than forty Soviet plays were produced on the Bulgarian stage 
and all independent officials or actors like Trifon Kunev, a 
former symbolist poet who was Director of the National Theatre, 
were accused of being part of the American spy ring and were 
at best removed from their posts. 

Under such models and the instructions to follow the patterns 
set by Gorky, Sholokhov and the other Soviet greats, the Com- 
munists finally developed a new set of writers, who were willing 
to produce works that were Soviet and socialist in essence and 
Bulgarian only in setting. Such were the poets Anton Rastsvet- 
nikov, who had begun to write before World War II and was 
just winning recognition, and Krum Kyulyakov (b. 1893). They 
drew the inspiration for their work (poems, plays, and stories) 
from the troubled times before 1944 and the underground activ- 
ity of the partisans opposing the Nazis. Some of the new works 
by such men as A. Gulyashki were praised, but almost invariably 
the critics, under Soviet inspiration and following the example 
set by Moscow, pointed out the flaws and defects in them. They 
were either too personal, too absorbed in the problems of the 
individual, or they failed to indicate the strength of the popu- 
lar acceptance of the Communists as sole leaders and sole guides 
to the promised land of socialism. There is hardly a single vol- 
ume by any of the younger men or women which has been 
accepted wholeheartedly as giving a fitting description of Bul- 
garian reality in the terms of the required Socialist Realism. 

Perhaps the play by Lozan Strelkov, The Reconnaissance, the 
story of the unmasking of a mysterious woman spy, was given the 
most praise for solving the problem without being theatrical or 
sensational and for presenting the facts truly. Orlin Vasilev pub- 

156 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

lished a successful novel, A Hayduk Does Not Feed His Mother, 
and various stories on the underground, while the poet Kamen 
Zidarov in 1948 in a play called The Tsar's Mercy castigated the 
treachery of Tsar Ferdinand who only grants to a poor widow 
who has once saved his life the mercy of having the body of her 
revolutionary son returned to her instead of it being buried 
in a nameless grave. 

All these and many other works from the early years found 
their main themes in the events of World War I, the following 
disturbances and the partisan activity during World War II. 
A break was made in 1949 when the theme of social reconstruc- 
tion emerged into the foreground in the play, The Promise, 
by Andrey Gulyashki. This play was typical of one stage of 
Soviet literature, when the object was to present the hero encour- 
aging the men in a factory to fulfill their norm of production 
despite all difficulties, personal conflicts in his own family, 
the activity of wreckers inspired from abroad, and material dif- 
ficulties caused by the setting of the norm at too high a level, 
while the workers respond with their Communist sense of respon- 
sibility, and all ends well with the opponents and saboteurs 
happily punished. 

It would be boring and needless to go into the details of the 
individual works of these years. They follow a traditional and 
stereotyped pattern for the various themes and can be differenti- 
ated only by the quality of the language and the style. It is in 
the full sense a standardized and regimented literature, and 
even then it barely received the approval of the Central Com- 
mittee of the Bulgarian Communist Party which scrutinized 
minutely the smallest details to see that they corresponded accu- 
rately to the general line of the Party at the moment when the 
work came up for discussion. 

Meanwhile the Bulgarian reading public was flooded with 
Russian books and with Bulgarian translations of Russian 
books. Official visits of Bulgarians to the land of the "older 
brother," Moscow, and of Russian writers to Bulgaria went on 
at a great rate. Everything was done to strengthen the Russian 
influence on all fields of Bulgarian life. The keynote to this was 
set by Dimitrov in 1947, when he said: 

The Communist Period 157 

"There is not and cannot be a right thinking person 
who would not be convinced that true friendship with the 
Soviet Union is as necessary for the national independence 
and flowering of Bulgaria as the sun and air are for every 
living creature." 

Vulko Chervenkov, the successor of Dimitrov after the latter 's 
illness and death, added in 1949: 

"The unbreakable Bulgarian-Soviet friendship is the main 
basis for our existence as an independent nation. Without 
the unbreakable Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, without our 
sincere gratitude and loyalty to the Soviet Union, the tested 
and wise VKP (b), and Comrade Stalin, the national inde- 
pendence of our country would have been unthinkable. 
There can be no real Bulgarian patriotism without these 

On this basis the entire Bulgarian literary life and culture 
were transformed. All writers who hoped for publication were 
compelled to join the Society of Bulgarian Writers formed on 
the Russian Soviet pattern. Its first president was Lyudmil Sto- 
yanov. Many of the former successful writers were conspicuous 
by their failure to join or were refused permission to enter the 
new group and continue their work. All the old literary journals 
were abolished and replaced by new ones. Among these latter 
were the Literary Front, September, and in 1957, The Flame 
(Plamuk). All of them were closely supervised by the Society of 
Bulgarian Writers and by the appropriate Ministries of the 
government and the Central Committee of the Party, which was 
only too glad to point out ideological defects in the works of 
any of the writers. 

After the death of Stalin, there came a slight change in the 
situation, although the old tradition of Russian friendship kept 
the writers in Bulgaria from going so far and so fast as they 
did in Poland and Hungary. Yet there were signs that the same 
process of revolt against the narrow form of Socialist Realism 
was taking place. Some of the younger writers, especially after 
Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin at the Twentieth Congress 
of the Communist Party in February, 1956, expressed themselves 

158 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

in terms that were highly reminiscent of the Russian novel of 
Dudintsev, Not by Bread Alone. The tendency increased still 
more strongly after the demotion of Vulko Chervenkov in April, 
1956. Writers, even those trained under Communism, began to 
point out the psychological failings inherent in mankind and 
to indicate that not all Communists had reached that state of 
perfection and selfless devotion that socialist realism called for 
and presumed to exist. They became in a way pessimistic and 
ceased to picture only the improvement of conditions under the 
benign rule of the Party. 

Thus Emil Manov published a novel, The Unauthentic Case. 
In this tale the hero (?) is a good, sincere Communist, but after 
his marriage and a certain rise in the Party ranks, he returns 
to an old love, finally starts to drink, and in the end goes insane. 
Manov was criticized because he did not represent the other 
Party members in the novel as exercising enough kindly and 
fatherly supervision over the hero to return him to his sense of 
obligation to his family and the Party but allowed him to pro- 
ceed on his way to self-destruction. 

Todor Genov, another Communist, in a play named Fear, 
made his hero a former partisan and a man possessed of almost 
all vices and, yet, one who was able to control himself and as 
a careerist rise in the Party hierarchy and even aspire to the post 
of a Minister. He even included a parody on a poem by one 
of the conformist writers, Khristo Radevski, To the Party, in 
these words: 

"Lead me, Party, lead me, I am ready to sacrifice all. 
Send me abroad if you wish, even there I will answer 

your call, 
I am your son, and if you wish you may make me 
a Minister, 
With flowers I will adorn every home, happy days 
will flow, 
Only give me an office and a throne and I will repay you 
an hundredfold." 

Since Genov did not make it clear that such individuals were 
removed from even the highest posts by the watchdogs of the 

The Communist Period 159 

Party, he was directly satirizing and slandering the Party as a 

The poet Krum Penev was accused of writing and submitting 
to various publications such anti-Communist verse that it scan- 
dalized even the non-Communist members of the staff. 

P. Neznakomov in The Flame published the story, The Bene- 
factors, which described the same forms of oppression of the 
poor by the rich that occurred in the old capitalistic society 
and still existed under Communist rule. 

Kiril Toromanski in the Literary Front, the official writers' 
paper, in a short story, Anna the Comrade of the District, shows 
how an earnest worker was persecuted by a tyrannical chief, 
who cared little for the population of his district and scorned 
them at every turn. To add to the insult, the story appeared 
in the same number of the journal which contained a scathing 
indictment of all those writers who did not treat the Party as 

Even Lyudmil Stoyanov ventured in some of his articles to 
assert that artistic truth did not always agree with the general 
line of the Party and that the author should be free to follow 
that artistic truth to some degree, even if it did contradict the 
general line. It was a very mild plea for the independence of 
the writer, but it was at any rate a straw in the wind. 

The writers were further accused of circulating illegally manu- 
script copies of works which could not hope to pass the official 
requirements, lax as they had become. In a word, there was every 
indication that part at least of the Bulgarian writers, poets and 
dramatists, and even critics like Gocho Gochev, the editor of the 
periodical Theatre, and Mikhail Velichkov were infected with 
a dangerous spirit of opposition to the directives of the Party. 
After the demotion of Chervenkov they even ventured to de- 
mand a special Party Congress to implement still further the 
decrees of the Twentieth Congress against the cult of per- 

There were of course writers like Lozan Strelkov, Khristo 
Radevski, and Kamen Kalchev who stoutly defended the Party 
line and denounced this trend to revisionism as the result of 
Western bourgeois machinations. They obeyed fully all the 

160 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

orders of the Central Committee and cheerfully argued for the 
official positions and for the fact that any deviation from the 
principles of Socialist Realism was treason to Marxism-Leninism. 
The extent to which they were willing to go was shown by 
Radevski in his poem To the Party: 

"And if I should ever forget myself 
And start to slander you— 
Don't spit at me!— For then 
Such honor I would not deserve, 
Not even the honor of your spittle!" 

On August 29, 1957 Khrushchev declared in Moscow the 
necessity for the control of literature by the Party, reasserting 
the general principles which had been enforced by Stalin and 
Zhdanov. This speech did not pass unnoticed in Bulgaria. From 
November 29 to December 1, 1957 there was held in Sofia a 
meeting of the party organization of the Society of Bulgarian 
Writers attended by Riben Avramov, the member of the Cen- 
tral Committee in charge of science, culture and education, 
and Dimitar Ganev, a Secretary of the Central Committee and 
a member of the Politburo, to silence the disputants. The secre- 
tary, A. Gulyashki, made a formal report listing ten writers who 
had first come into prominence under the Communist regime. 
With the exception of Stoyanov, who had long been regarded 
as the most devoted servant of the Party, the men who had 
been infected, as in Poland and Hungary, were Communist- 
trained, Communist-educated and so could not have known 
personally the bitter struggles that went on in 1923 or during 
World War II. The writers like Zidarov, Manov, Genov, and 
others made perfunctory apologies for some of their misdeeds, 
but their excuses were so obviously hypocritical, or even sar- 
castic, that it was obvious no mere resolution was going to bring 
them back to the conventional path. 

In April the Society of Bulgarian Writers held its annual 
meeting, at which Todor Zhivkov, the First Secretary of the 
Central Committee of the Party, appeared to condemn the 
malcontents and to stress the fact that the "concept of spon- 

The Communist Period 161 

taneous development of literature and art is alien to our Party, 
our Marxism-Leninism." At the same time he appealed to the 
writers in the hope that unity could be restored without the 
use of those forcible measures which were so freely employed 
during the regime of Stalin. 

It is already obvious that the Communists prefer to see this 
oppositional trend as directly inspired by western counter- 
revolutionary influences. They do not hesitate to accuse the 
West of corrupting the writers. At the same time they have 
prepared their own diagnosis of the ills from which the writers 
are suffering. These include traditionalism and, on the other 
hand, pseudo-innovationism (to be sought in the attempts 
to acclimate the forms used by Hemingway and Camus). There 
is epigonism, the attempt to write in the tradition of the past 
writers and to present more or less closely the old Bulgarian vil- 
lage, as an escape from the attempts to picture the turmoil of 
collectivization. There are also chernogledstvo—a. pessimistic out- 
look on modern life— and empiricism and descriptionalism— 
terms used to describe life without fulfilling those demands 
set by Socialist Realism. 

Still more basic was the dispute as to the way in which socialist 
romanticism could be treated in its relation to Socialist Realism. 
Should this be included? Or separated? It was duly declared 
that any separation of the romantic and the realistic was anti- 
Marxian. In still another dispute, in order to remove the temp- 
tation to hark back to the older periods, it was declared that 
the critical realism of the past had nothing in common with 
the Socialist Realism of the present: 

"To-day's society and to-day's State have nothing in com- 
mon with the social conditions and institutions of the past, 
for our contemporary social order is based precisely on those 
virtues which our predecessors extolled while that which 
they rejected has either ceased to exist, or exists as some- 
thing discarded and condemned to extinction. In these 
circumstances our realism can only be a positive one. It 
says 'Yes' to our socialist reality. That is why it is called 
Socialist Realism." 

162 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Here the situation apparently stands at present. The staffs 
of the various periodicals have been thoroughly purged, but 
apparently no violence or arrests have resulted. The next step 
will apparently rest upon the Bulgarian writers, some of whom 
have manifestly yielded to the pressure, and still more upon 
the will of the Kremlin and its decision on how to handle the 
situation. Khrushchev late in the spring visited the Commu- 
nist Party Congress in Sofia to inveigh against Tito and revision- 
ism in general, but there seems in the different countries, includ- 
ing the USSR, a disinclination to resort to force at this time. 
The future cannot, of course, be predicted. 

A special feature in the Russian attempt to eliminate any 
discontent is rather curious. As we have seen, the early Bulgar- 
ian writers were much influenced by the Ukrainian revival, 
which had a strong anti-Russian tinge. Now that the Kremlin 
has produced, more or less to its satisfaction, a Soviet Ukrainian 
literature which is subservient to Russian influences and hints, 
it has fostered very lively Bulgarian-Ukrainian relations, a con- 
tinued exchange of Ukrainian-Bulgarian Communist writers 
and a systematic publication in the two lands of articles 
expressing the Communist character of the other. Thus after 
stifling Ukrainian thought, Russian Communism is trying to 
use its resulting product to inspire in Bulgaria a general sense 
of a Russian-led Slavic Communist union, apparently to offset 
any tendency in Bulgaria to sympathize with Tito, Yugoslavia, or 
their revisionist brand of Communism. 

Thus by 1958 Bulgarian literature at home has been standard- 
ized as completely as possible on the Russian Communist model. 
Some of the efforts seem to be unpalatable, thanks to the Bul- 
garian spirit of independence which has not been crushed, as 
it was not in the past, by the existence of pro-Russian sentiments. 
The Bulgarian Communist writers resent the utterly unpersonal- 
ized literature and the dogmatic cliches imposed upon them. 
Whether the Communists can master this resentment is the 
question of the future. 


The Characteristics of Bulgarian 

It is almost two centuries since Father Paisi Khilandarski, a 
humble and obscure monk on Mount Athos, conceived the idea 
of compiling a history of the Bulgarians as an ideal toward 
which his oppressed people could work in the future. The 
response to his work was painfully slow, but gradually and surely 
his book extended its influence, first among the clergy and the 
monks, and then among the educated laymen in the Bulgarian 
colonies in the Russian Empire and especially in such Ukrainian 
cities as Odesa and Nizhyn, and also at home. These Bulgarians 
were inspired not only by the Russians with whom they were 
in contact but perhaps still more by the Ukrainians, who in a 
similar situation were becoming painfully aware of their own 
national individuality. The Bulgarians were entranced by the 
works of Kvitka-Osnovyanenko and especially by the great 
Ukrainian poet and political martyr, Taras Shevchenko, with 
his strong pleas for nationalism, democracy, and social justice. 

Within a century men like Petko Slaveykov were writing real 
poetry, were evaluating the old Bulgarian peasant culture, and 
were turning the folksongs and traditions of their people to 
good use. They struggled first for a Bulgarian national Church 
and school and secured both. Others worked to produce a Bul- 
garian press. They did it. Still others in the hayduk tradition 
fought with arms in their hands against their oppressors. 

By the time of Karavelov and Botev the movement had 
engulfed almost the entire population. The Turkish massacres 
of 1876 focussed the attention of Europe and especially of Russia 


164 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

upon the Bulgarians. The Russians offered them help as brother 
Slavs, but the Bulgarian leaders after liberation soon showed 
that they had no intention of becoming the permanent vassals 
of Russia. They wanted to play their own role and they did. 

The literary movement went on. Vazov pitched its note on 
a world-wide scale and was the first Bulgarian author to have 
a novel translated into all the European languages. The men of 
his generation gradually developed a literary taste, and while 
they did not form a distinct school, they were bound together by 
their ideals. 

From here it was but a short step for the generation that 
matured in the nineties to look further. The leading men, 
trained in Germany and influenced by Mykhaylo Drahomaniv, 
a Ukrainian who became a professor in Sofia, introduced into 
Bulgarian literature in a Bulgarian form all those literary move- 
ments which were developing in Europe, and they proved them- 
selves worthy disciples. They used these new styles to express 
themselves and the ideals of their people, to integrate Bulgarian 
literature with that of the whole of Europe, and to translate the 
leading European classics into Bulgarian. 

At the moment of Bulgaria's highest hopes, there came the 
Balkan Wars and then World War I. The lights went out all 
over Europe, and they have not yet been relighted. There came 
the Russian Revolution with the efforts of the non-Russian 
peoples to escape from the rule of Moscow and the triumph of 
Russian Communism. Bulgaria had to pass through terrible 
times. The new generation which held the centre of the stage 
in the nineteen twenties could not escape the depressing atmos- 
phere which hung over the country. Yet, after years of mysticism 
and doubt, the country emerged into a prosperity and an order 
which it had not known for centuries and which the literature 

Hope revived but in a form that led Bulgaria to enter World 
War II on the side of the Fascist and Nazi powers. The result 
was a new catastrophe, for when the Nazis were expelled, the 
Red Army proceeded with typical cynicism and ruthlessness 
to set up a Communist government in Bulgaria and to root 
out all typically Bulgarian traditions and turn the state into a 

The Characteristics of Bulgarian Literature 165 

Communist satellite where no one could breathe freely and 
everything was on the Muscovite pattern. Bulgarian literature, 
by fair means and foul, was degraded to be merely a subordinate 
part of Russian Soviet literature. The Russian Communist dic- 
tatorship is a tyranny worse than that of the Turks, for they 
only oppressed the body and did not try to crush the soul of 
the Bulgarian people. That soul is not yet dead, for even the 
most slavish Communists at the slightest opportunity have tried 
to express their own thoughts and feelings. 

What are the chief characteristics of this new Bulgarian lit- 
erature? The answer is relatively simple. 

(1) It is for the most part in its origin and development a 
peasant literature, deeply rooted in the Bulgarian folklore. It 
is the literature of a proud and independent peasantry, tillers 
of the soil, who educated and trained themselves to the point 
where they won their independence against overwhelming odds. 
The decade when they won it, the seventies of the last century, 
was the heroic period of modern Bulgarian history. 

(2) It is this period when independence was won which 
supplied many of the main themes even down to World War II 
and which in various modes of treatment and various genres 
formed the subject matter of many of the greatest works. 

As a corollary to this we have the fact that Sofia, although 
the capital and the educational centre of the country, has never 
been a city that elicited the literary sympathies of the writers. 
In recent years they have lived and written in its neighborhood, 
but it is Tirnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, 
that has figured more heavily in poems and in prose. So, too, 
have the little villages scattered throughout the land, for it is 
these and their customs that have been the models for the authors. 

(3) A special feature of Bulgarian literature is its strong 
sense of the past. The great days of Bulgaria were those of the 
First and Second Empires and they have exerted a disproportion- 
ate influence on the thinking of the Bulgarian nation. This has 
favored the development of the historical novel and historical 
poetry sometimes at the cost of injury to their historical per- 

(4) Throughout the entire period the call for a democratic 

166 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

world outlook and for the understanding and preservation of 
human rights has been a dominant feature in all of the major 
writers. It has encouraged the Bulgarian love of liberty and 
freedom and has given a sober and realistic tone to the entire 
literature even in the twentieth century when the Bulgarians 
were for the first time becoming conscious of life outside of their 
native villages. 

(5) The present of Bulgarian literature is dark and so will 
its future be until the yoke of Communism is broken and the 
Bulgarians are once more free to choose their own path into 
the future and develop their own traditions and institutions. 
But that time will surely come. 

The Bulgarians have travelled far over a hard road during 
the past two centuries. They have done well and they deserve 
the sympathy and assistance of the free world. The burden 
of the past has been borne by the Bulgarian peasant, thrifty, 
hard-working, patient and suffering. The literature deals with 
his hopes, his troubles and his difficulties. It is a good basis for 
a literature that is both idealistic and realistic and we can be 
sure that a liberated Bulgaria will take its place in the free 
world of the future and resume its interrupted course of de- 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 

Bulgarian Folksongs 


O thou hill, thou high green hill! 
Why, green hill, art thou so withered? 
Why so withered and so wilted? 
Did the winter's frost so wilt thee? 
Did the summer's heat so parch thee? 
Not the winter's frost did wilt me, 
Nor the summer's heat did parch me, 
But my glowing heart is smothered. 
Yesterday three slave gangs crossed me; 
Grecian maids were in the first row, 
Weeping, crying bitterly: 
"O our wealth! art lost for ever!" 
Black eyed maidens from Walachia 
Weeping, crying in the second: 
"O ye ducats of Walachia!" 
Bulgar women in the third row, 
Weeping, crying, "O sweet home! 
O sweet home! beloved children! 
Fare ye well, fare well for ever! 

J. S. C. de Radius, Russian and Slavic Poetry 
London, 1854, pp. 56-57. 


If it's flowers that you want, 
Then, O youth, come in the morning, 
'Tis the time when happy flowers 
Will reciprocate your love. 


168 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

If it's water that you want, 
Then, I pray you, come at noon, 
'Tis the time when laughing water 
Will reciprocate your love. 

If it's love that you desire, 

Then, O youth, come in the twilight, 

And perhaps a lovely maiden 

Will reciprocate your love. 

The Shade of the Balkans, p. 121. 


Neda, lovely Neda 

Lay on the bed of sickness. 

When they sowed the fields 

Illness came upon her. 

When they reaped the fields 

Illness had not flown. 

Then said she to her mother: 

Lift me up in your arms, 

Take me to the courtyard 

That I may have sight of the sun, 

That he may have sight of me. 

And as they were on the threshold, 

The friends of Neda came past, 

They came to work in the fields. 

They sang and it was for her: 

Rise, Neda, and come with us, 
Make an end of your sickness, 
Come and finish the work 
That you began in the spring. 

Neda lifted her eyes, 

She moved her lips in reply, 

She sank on the ground and was dead. 

The Shade of the Balkans, pp. 126-127. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 169 



There in the castle, at the lofty battlement, 

With his friend of friends sat the King's son Marko, 

With his friend of friends, Philip the Hungarian, 

And the wife of Marko, the fair young wife, attended them, 

Filling their cups with the noble wine. 

Then it was they gazed o'er the plain of Prilip 

And unto Marko spoke Philip the Hungarian: 

Knowest thou what has befallen the world? 

Never dost thou sally forth beyond the threshold, 

As if the world had naught save the beauty of thy wife; 

And what befalls— of that thou knowest nothing. 

There is invented a death-bringing engine, 

And inside it there dwells a little ball, 

Out it flies and strikes a man— out flies the soul of him. 

Then laughed Marko at the words of Philip, 

Marko laughed and his wife was smiling, 

And these were the words of the old, great-hearted hero: 

Widely, forsooth, my friend, hast thou travelled, 

Too well thou knowest what happens in the world, 

How can a ball kill a gallant hero? 

Philip the Hungarian raised his voice and shouted, 

Shouted with his voice over Prilip's plain: 

Herd, come you hither, leave the sheep grazing. 

Young herd, come hither, with your little gun. 

Then Marko laughed till the castle quivered: 

Now we shall see, we shall be instructed. 

When the shepherd came, old Marko seized his gun, 

Throwing it about as tho' it were a feather. 

And that you say can send a hero into darkness! 

Take your foolish gun, there is my hand for you! 

Let the ball fly and I shall catch it! 

But the ball flew forth and bored thro' Marko's hand. 

Then he grew pale, the old, great-hearted hero, 

Sitting there in silence, his arms upon the table. 

At nightfall he went and returned no more. 

170 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

There is a story told by the people, 

That Marko hides between the lofty mountains, 

Near to the chasm of Demir-Kapia, 

Where the river Vardar turns like a serpent. 

There does the hero slumber thro' the centuries; 

In the soil before it has he plunged his lance 

And against the lance the hero-horse is fastened, 

Thus to be ready for the gallant Marko 

When he rides again in pursuit of exploits. 

Now beyond the chasm winds a mountain-footpath, 

When the wanderers go there, turning round they shout: 

Do you live, do you live yet, the people's father, Marko? 

And it is to them as tho' they heard an answer: 

He lives, he lives yet, the people's father, Marko. 

The Shade of the Balkans, pp. 123-125. 


Thro' the woods he wanders, Strajil the robber-chief, 
Thro' the woods he wanders, thro' the green woodlands, 
The mother of the robber-chief is a mighty Balkan, 
Strajil the robber-chief lives without a care, 
The father of Strajil is the shadow of a beech-tree, 
The camp of the robber-chief is the tender grass, 
The spouse of the robber-chief is a slender rifle, 
Wheresoe'er he sends her, there she does the work of him, 
The children of the robber-chief are the white bullets, 
Wheresoe'er he sends them, there they do the work for him, 
Strajil the robber-chief lives without a care; 
Wheresoe'er he wanders, wanders he in peace. 

The Shade of the Balkans, pp. 95-96. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 171 

Petko Rachev Slaveykov 

As the gray shadow of clouds swept over my face, 
So did the centuries follow and leave no trace- 
Some have come and have gone with lingering feet, 
Some have clattered and raged with the battle's heat. 
Out of my brooding dreams did they waken me 
That I should behold mirth, laughter and tragedy. 
For as I looked at the dawn in her robes of ice 
I saw the flickering flames of a sacrifice, 
I heard a shepherd singing the while he drove 
His wayward, wandering flocks through the windless grove, 
And in the gloom of a canopied oak I saw 
The priest with his locks dishevelled, the father of law, 
Interpreting evil and good of the distant ages, 
And there he sat in the circle of bearded sages. 

So fled the years— the gay to the grave gave hand, 

As they, forsooth, in the dawn of the world were planned. 

And then came those who made for a distant shore, 
The captives they of a dream their bosoms bore, 
While those who were condemned to the threshold-stones 
Did curse the day, did blacken the night with groans. 
Yet some who journeyed journeyed back again— 
Of thousands one. Ah! the dreamers lying slain 
Were given life in the song which the minstrel told, 
And yet the fires of the heart of the land were cold, 
And seldom now did the smoke of an altar rise 
To wander and lose its way to the silent skies. 

So fled the years— the gay to the grave gave hand, 

As they, forsooth, in the dawn of the world were planned. 

And then I heard the clash and the clangour of fight,— 
I looked where storms had driven the clouds in flight, 
I looked and saw where blood was upon the world, 
How murderous brother was against brother hurled, 
And how the hand of a son had seized a dart 

172 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Remorselessly to thrust in a father's heart. 
Ah! so in death they sank, for a God they died 
Who once on a wooden cross was crucified. 
Thus over the world did Plague and Famine roam, 
In towns, in villages they made their home, 
But hollow tree and cave of the mountain side 
Were sought of hermits gaunt, grim, savage-eyed, 
For whom the world was a place of hate, and they 
Groped for a day that loomed beyond their day, 
Whence vanities and splendour should be cast- 
But it was in their souls that I saw them fast, 
Unto the grave were all their longings turned, 
Nor heeded they the love that in me burned. 

So fled the years— the gay to the grave gave hand, 

As they, forsooth, in the dawn of the world were planned. 

Then red battalions burst across the plain, 
And there is none to thrust them back again. 
In bonds of slavery the land is bent, 
Upon its life the curse of its life is sent. 
The land is dark with the vapour of burning towns, 
From every rock the ravenous vulture frowns, 
By desolate roads, through the glimmering forest glen 
I saw the long procession of murdered men, 
I heard those weep who wept at being born, 
And those who from the mother's breast were torn. 
I looked, and behold the fateful ravens flew, 
I looked at the fields aglare with a crimson dew- 
Altars were prone and the sacrificial smoke 
Rose out of the flowing blood of the slaughtered folk. 
So then the years did sleep where they used to tread, 
For thus it is when the soul of the land is dead— 
The land is forgotten of Time, it is cast behind, 
There to foul as a corpse that is thrown to the wind. 

So fled the years— the gay to the grave gave hand, 

As they, forsooth, in the dawn of the world were planned. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 173 

And softly then as the stars to the twilight sing 
So sleep came into the voice of the mountain-king. 
But there was a trailing sigh and a swarm of shades 
Fluttered across the gloom of the woodland glades 
And then it was that another voice replied 
And that was a sacred voice to the countryside, 
To field and woods in delicate robes of white 
Toying with dreams in the lap of the summer night: 

Balkan, our father Balkan, have eyes of grace, 
Harshly dost thou look from the judgment place. 
What of our mothers now, of the tears they brought 
To blot away the sins which the fathers wrought? 
Look on those who look upon thee from the graves- 
Did they live no life save the life of slaves? 
Had their children naught save the milk of slaves? 
Had their souls no thought save the thoughts of slaves? 
Behold the wounds that out of our bosoms stream! 
Count the numberless heroes who fell for a dream! 
In thy crevasses, there on the rugged heights 
We, thy sons, have died in a hundred fights— 
But yet we awakened Time and we urged him on, 
We drew the curtain of night and the daylight shone. 
Now turn thy glance to the queen of the mountain throng, 
Hear thou the music of swords, hear thou of songs the song! 
Thither the people fly, for liberty lies in chain, 
Thither we fly, the dead, to the glorious place again. 
Ah! we have risen, we ride from a shadowy shore 
To see the fate that our country shall have in store. 

And softly then as the stars to the twilight sing 

So slept the voice that spoke to the mountain-king. 

And as he looked to the gloom of the woodland glades 

Away they flew, the fluttering swarm of shades, 

The chin of the Balkan dropped and his lips were dumb 

And he was sunk in a dream of the days to come. 

The Shade of the Balkans, pp. 29-32. 

174 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Khristo Botev 


He's alive, livingl There on the Balkan, 
Blood all bespattered, lies he a-moaning. 
Hero sore wounded there in his bosom, 
Hero, young lad, but a man in his prowess. 

There is his rifle, dropped where he faltered, 
There is his sword, all broken asunder. 
Dark grow his eyes, his body is trembling 
With his lips cursing all that's around him. 

There lies the hero. There in the heavens 
Blazes the sunlight, showing no mercy. 
No healing water comes to that meadow. 
Yet his warm blood is flowing e'er faster. 

This is the harvest! Sing, O you slave girls, 
Songs of your burden! Sun, blaze more fiercely 
On this slave land. There he will perish, 
Hero unrivalled. Heart, do be silent. 

He who has fallen fighting for freedom, 
He will not perish; all will assist him, 
Earth and the heavens, creature and nature. 
Singers will render songs in his honor. 

Wings of the eagle bar off the sunlight; 

Softly the wolf comes, licks where he's wounded. 

O'er him a falcon, bird of a hero; 

Thou art his brother, care for the hero. 

Evening is coming— moonlight will warm him. 
Stars will shine out on heaven's broad ranges. 
Mountains are stirring, blowing the breezes. 
Hayduk bold songs now rise from the Balkan. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 175 

Nymphs are appearing, clad in white raiment, 
Wonderful, charming songs are they singing. 
Softly they're tramping through the green meadow, 
Come to the hero, sit down beside him. 

One with sweet herbs his wounds now is binding, 
This one comes up with water refreshing. 
This one is kissing lips that deserve it 
And he awakes, he speaks and he's smiling. 

Tell me, my sister, of Karadjata? 
Where is my loyal, faithful druzhina? 
Tell me, receive then from me my spirit. 
Sister, I want so also to perish. 

Clasping their hands as if they were embracing, 
Singing, they're flying up to the heavens, 
Flying and singing, far as they're sighted, 
Seeking the spirit of Karadjata. 

Now there is sadness. And on the Balkan 
Lies the great hero, bleeding severely, 
And his cruel wounds a wolf now is licking 
While the hot sun is blazing more fiercely. 

C. A. M. 


In feeling we two are close brothers. 
Like thoughts we conceal in our hearts. 
I know that for naught in our lifetime 
We twain will repent of our parts. 

If that is correct or is evil, 

Posterity is to decide. 

But now with our hands stoutly clasping, 

We move ever forward in stride. 

176 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

We walked as one man through our lifetime, 
Through suffering, exile and need, 
But yet as close brothers we shared it. 
Again we will share it, give heed. 

We'll share all the ignorant censures, 
We'll suffer the laughter of fools, 
We'll suffer with never a murmur 
The torturer's crudest tools. 

Our heads we shall never, no, never, 
Bend low to the idols men hold. 
We've spoken our hearts to each other 
In songs that are sad and yet bold. 

So now with our thoughts and our feelings, 
We twain will move on to our fates, 
We'll go to our final decision, 
Till death, brother, death, we are mates. 

C. A. M. 


O, my God, Thou Lord of Justice— 
Not the one in far off heaven— 
But thou, God, who dwell'st within me, 
In my heart and in my doing. 

Not the one who out of mud balls 
Made a man and then a woman, 
Whom he left, enslaved, to suffer, 
Bound in chains and bent with labor. 

Nor the one who asks submission, 
Makes us cringe and say our prayers, 
Feeds our hearts with empty stories 
Of gold mansions and white stairs. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 177 

But my God of mind and reason, 
Champion bold of slaves and pris'ners, 
Whose Great Day of liberation 
Soon shall dawn for all the nations, 

Kindle in me, God Almighty, 
Burning love for human freedom, 
Help me fight with dauntless courage 
The enslavers of my people. 

Strengthen my right hand, O Father, 
When the slaves arise from slumber; 
Make me one of Thy bold warriors; 
Take my life— give others freedom. 

R. H. Markham, Meet Bulgaria, p. 216 
(Stanzas 2, 4, 6, 10 omitted.) 

Ivan Vazov 


Below the Great Balkan, a stone's throw from Thrace, 
Where the mountain, majestic and straight as a wall, 

Lifts his terrible back— in a bird-haunted place 

Where green boughs are waving, white torrents appall. 

With yellowing marbles, with moldering eaves, 
Mute rises the cloister, girt round with the hills 

And mingling its gloom with the glimmer of leaves, 
The newness of blossoms, the murmur of rills. 

Without the white walls what commotion and whirr! 
Within them how solemn, how startling the hush! 

All is steeped in a slumber that nothing can stir- 
Not the waterfall shattered to foam in its rush. 

178 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

In that hallowed enclosure, above the quaint shrine, 
With angel and martyr in halo and shroud, 

Looms a giant-limbed tree— a magnificent pine, 

Whose black summit is plunged in the soft summer cloud. 

As the wings of an eagle are opened for flight, 
As a cedar of Lebanon shields from the heat, 

So he shoots out his branches to left and to right, 
Till they shade every tomb in that tranquil retreat. 

The monk with white beard saw him ever the same- 
Unaltered in grandeur, in height or in girth! 

Nor can anyone living declare when that frame 
Was first lifted in air, or the root pierced the earth. 

That mysterious root that had long ceased to grow, 
Sunken deep in that soil— who can tell where it ends? 

That inscrutable summit what mortal can know? 
Like a cloud, with the limitless azure it blends. 

And perchance the old landmark, by ages unbent, 
Is sole witness to valor and virtue long past. 

Peradventure he broods o'er each mighty event 
That once moved him to rapture or made him aghast. 

And 'tis thus he lives on, meeting storm after storm 
With contempt and defiance— a stranger to dread. 

Nor can winter or summer, that all things transform, 
Steal the plumes from his shaggy and resolute head. 

From the crotches and tufts of those wide-waving boughs, 
Blithe birds by the hundreds are pouring their lays; 

There in utter seclusion their nestlings they house, 
Far from envy and hate passing halcyon days. 

Last of all save the mountain, the Balkan's own son 
Takes the tinge of the sunset. A crown as of fire 

First of all he receives from the new-risen one, 
And salutes his dear guest with the small feathered choir. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 179 

But alas! in old age, though with confident heart 

He yet springs toward the zenith, majestic and tail- 
Since he too of a world full of peril is part, 

The same fate hath found him that overtakes all. 

On a sinister night came the thunder's long roll; 

No cave of the mountain but echoed that groan. 
All at once fell the storm upon upland and knoll 

With implacable fury aforetime unknown. 

The fields were deserted, the valleys complained; 

The heavens grew lurid with flash after flash; 
In the track of the tempest no creature remained— 

Only terror and gloom and the thunderbolt's crash. 

As of old, the huge tree his assailant repays 

With intense indignation, with thrust after thrust; 

Till uprooted, confounded, his whole length he lays, 
With a heart-rending cry of despair, in the dust. 

As a warrior attacked without warning rebounds 

Undismayed from each stroke of his deadliest foe- 
Then staggers and languishes, covered with wounds, 
Knowing well that his footing he soon must forego; 

As he still struggles on in the enemy's grasp, 
Falling only in death, yielding only to fate 

With a final convulsion, a single deep gasp, 
That at last he survive not his fallen estate— 

So the pine-tree, perceiving the end of his reign, 
Yet unsplintered, uncleft in that desperate strife, 

Vouchsafed not to witness the victor's disdain, 
But with dignity straightway relinquished his life. 

He is fallen! he lies there immobile, august; 

Full of years, full of scars, on the greensward he lies. 
Till last evening so proudly his summit he thrust, 

To the wonder of all men, far into the skies. 

180 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

And behold, as the conqueror closes the fray 

With one mortal stroke more to his down-trodden foe, 
Then ignoring the conquest, all honors would pay, 

Shedding tears for the hero his hand hath brought low- 
Thus the whirlwind, forgetting his fury, grew dumb, 

Now that prone on the earth his antagonist lay; 
And revering the victim his stroke had o'ercome, 

To profound lamentation and weeping gave way. 

Lucy C. Bull, Columbia Course in Literature, 
Vpl. 10, pp. 576-578. 


The moon is rising o'er the Royal peak. 

The rivers storm along, then go to sleep. 

The buildings breathe their quiet ancient soul 

And unknown legends through our minds now creep. 

Khrel's tower stands outlined against the sky. 

The church's splendid domes now shine in silv'ry light. 

And we can mark amid the moon's bright rays 

How all the evening prayers cut through the shades of night. 

'Tis quiet, yes, and strange. The soul can dream 
And recreate those ancient days so fair, 
Can revel sweetly in fond memories 
Or rise unnoticed to the upper air. 

'Tis quiet, yes, and strange. The moon shines out, 
The heavens sleep. The streams sing their low song, 
Night's poem lures with its entrancing spell 
And far from wakeful eyes sleep tarries long. 

C. A. M. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 181 


No, I do not think that in that time 
You will sacrifice yourself for gold; 
Your day will shine, 
Your wings unfold. 

Greatness shall burn 
Anew in a new century 
And the sun will turn 
Its smile upon your unity. 

Nations at your feet will bow, 
Homeland, beloved and fair, 
Then. . . . But listen now! 
In that morning I shall not be there. 

Arthur P. Coleman 

Slavonic and East European Review 
Vol. 9, p. 208. 

Pencho Slaveykov 


In the presence of the Cadi 
Were the villagers assembled. 
Said they: "Venerable Cadi, 
Sit you there with legs contorted, 
But give uncontorted judgment. 
Thro' the summer have we suffered 
And we can endure no longer- 
One mad fellow in the village 
Plays and plays upon his flute, 
Plays from daybreak until evening, 
So that we are sore afflicted. 
Maidens and young married women 
Leave their work and follow him, 

182 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

And at evening when we come 
From our labour in the fields 
We go hungrily to bed, 
For that cursed song of his 
Lures the soberest of housewives 
From the cooking of our suppers, 
And the bread— it barely rises." 
Then the Cadi sat contorted 
And gave uncontorted judgment. 
"Bring him in," the Cadi cries, 
But he enters not alone, 
For the flute is on his girdle 
And a ram upon his shoulder, 
Ram with wondrous, silken hair 
Which he lays before the Cadi. 
"Well! so let us hear the flute, 
That accursed instrument, 
Which makes all the people mad, 
And old men and women young." 
So the youth began to play 
And the Cadi stared at him, 
Stared and started from his seat, 
Sprang upon the floor and lo! 
He was dancing, dancing, dancing! 
"Play, mad fellow, play," cried he, 
"Verily, it comes from God 
And I— am I here to judge 
Almighty God's immortal gift. 

Henry Bernard 

The Shade of the Balkans, pp. 222-223. 


My heart is now a stranger to the world. 
It's like a ruined temple from the past 
And secret watchers with their jealous eyes 
Into its sacred shrine their visions cast. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 183 

It sees those looks and only death expects. 
It's like a ruined temple from the past. 
The world's loud murmur seeks to enter in 
But only to profane the noble past. 

Dry and yellow autumn leaves 
Are burned up in fires of autumn. 
I tread on them and pass by them, 
Yellow leaves all dry and fallen. 
What they whisper, who can tell, 
Yellow leaves all dry and fallen. 
I will know for in the future 
I shall burn in fires of autumn. 

Waking and asleep, 
I see you ever stay, 
Wondrous as the night, 
Clear as is the day. 

Day disturbs my heart, 
And I long for night. 
Nights I lie and dream, 
Begging daylight bright. 

While we are young, the golden sun will warm. 
The heart will cherish golden dreams which swarm. 
While we are young, the path of life is pleasant 
And light are those world troubles ever present. 

While we are young, all things are light to bear 
And sorrow is not to the heart a snare. 
And then we find that joy from sorrow's sprung, 
While we are young, Oh, yes, while we are young. 

184 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

A lonely grave, a lonely vale, 
The wilderness around is still. 
I long have known that lonely vale, 
That lonely grave beneath a hill. 

I know that in that lonely grave 
Deep in that lonely vale to lie 
A loving hand has buried deep 
An unloved orphan with a sigh. 
Now for that life unwanted, dead, 
For that unwanted life that's still, 
A lonely grave, a lonely vale, 
The wilderness around is still. 

C. A. M. 

Peyu Yavorov 


The snows of March are melting fast, 
The village brooks but yesterday all wrapped in ice and frost 
Rush fresh and overthrow their banks; 
The poplars stir in the spring breeze. 

From early morn the heated sun 
Still warms the more from out the bluish vault of heaven clear. 
The bird on high sends out its song 
And greets the spring with song so sweet. 

On every side there's life and stir; 
The meadow wakes beneath the swarms of gay and 
laughing youths, 
The fields are trampled down by throngs 
Of peasants glad to work again. 

C. A. M. 

Selections of Bulgarian Poetry 185 


I love you. You are fair as heaven in your blooming youth 

just as an angel's dream of love. 

You are a dream that shows to me the quiet joy of truth 

along that joyless path I move 

and that first step toward a confession calls my heart 

to sob for sin and love 

and that is day and darkness is a part. 

I love you, for you swim in semidarkness now 

along a way uncharted, drear. 

I think that you are She, that there is lurking 

the erring spirit of the year 

and in the gloomy ocean I now sit in pain 

and turn my gaze on you 

and I must know the dread abyss of fear. 

I love you now— because you still can smile 

before that terrorizing fate 

and there is none to warn the storm-tossed bark, 

no blast to bid you wait 

and never do I meet "that's why I love you" 

reproach or plea to wait, 

while I wrong you, myself and fate. 

C. A. M. 


All silent roams the ghastly shade of death 
and casts upon the earth her mantle white 
her breath blows sharp amid the night 

upon the snowy plains dry leaves now meet our sight. 

I think of thee, dear mother. Thou art there 
deep in the ravening maw of the stout earth. 
I long for you, dear mother, now you're there 
on that hid path. I cannot know its goal or worth. 

186 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

And everywhere moves on the shade of death 
and fills the graves from hoar eternity 
and silently it works along with night 
and silently it pushes on unto eternity. 

I know that you are cold, dear mother, there, 
in the dark earth with all its soulless lairs. 
I dread, dear mother, also what is there 
Where dreamless thought with bitter draughts the 
soul embraces. 

The shades of death beheld, now check their course 
in heaven behind the fog the moon shines dark 
a mighty call is borne along the night 

the gloom increases, seeking me as its own mark. 

C. A. M. 



1. Dvornik, F., Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome au IX Steele, Paris, 1926. 
Pp. 15-16. 

2. Cf. Rambaud, A., L'Empire Grec au Dixieme Siecle, Paris, 1870. Pp. 

3. The terms "Bulgaria— Bulgarian" are derived from the old Turko-Tatar 
tribal name which is related not to the name of the river Volga but to the 
old Turk bulgar— "mongrel." Cf. Vasmer, Max, Russisches Etymologisches 
Worterbuch. Heidelberg, Carl Winter, 1915. P. 102. 

4. Cf. Halecki, Oscar, Borderlands of Western Civilization, New York, 
Ronald Press, 1952. Pp. 23-25. 

5. Cf. Potocek, Cyril S., Saint Cyril and Methodius, New York, P. Y. Ken- 
nedy & Sons, 1941. P. 65. 

6. The veneration of these Slavic Apostles is widely spread also in the 
United States, not only among the Slavic Orthodox Churches but also in 
the Catholic Church of both the Byzantine-Slavic Rite and also the Latin 
Rite; cf. the Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius, Orchard Lake, Mich. 

7. Paszkiewicz, Henryk, The Origin of Russia, New York, Philosophical 
Library, 1954. Pp. 381-404. 

8. Vlassovsky, Ivan, Outline History of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church 
New York, 1956. Vol. I, p. 21. 

9. Isajiw, Peter, From Where did Rus-Ukraine Accept Christianity? Phila 
delphia, Penn., 1952; Koch, Hans. "Byzanz, Ochrid und Kiev," Kyrios, Vol 
I, p. 19. 

10. Cf. Runciman, Steven, A History of the First Bulgarian Empire, London 
1930. Bobchev, S.S. "Bulgaria under Tsar Simeon," Slavonic Review, Vol 
VII-VIII (1928-1930); Spinka, Matthew, A History of Christianity in the 
Balkans. A Study in the Spread of Byzantine Culture among the Slavs, Chi 
cago, 1933; Black, Cyril E. "The Balkan Slavs in the Middle Ages," A Hand 
book of Slavic Studies, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University, 1949. 

11. Cf. Hrushevsky, Michael, A History of Ukraine, edited by O. J. Fred- 
eriksen, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1941. Pp. 59-61. 

12. Cf. Vernadsky, George, Kievan Russia, New Haven, Yale University 
Press, 1948. P. 320. 

13. Mishew, D. The Bulgarians in the Past, Lausanne, 1919. Pp. 84-85. 

14. Cf. Hrycak, Paul. The Duchy of Halych-Volynia, New York, Shevchenko 
Scientific Society, 1958. P. 81. 

15. Cf. Palmer, I. A. B. "The Origin of Janissaries," Bulletin John Ryland's 
Library, 35 (1953). Janissary means in Turkish "new army." 

16. Kiliynaya school— cloister or parochial school. 

17. Rayah-a Turkish term of contempt for the Christians. 

18. Chorbadji was the Turkish title of the commander of a Janissary 
battalion in the rank of colonel or major. Later the Turks used this title 


188 Modern Bulgarian Literature 

for Bulgarian notables in contrast to the common man in the street. As a 
result the title acquired in Bulgaria the significance of "quisling, collaborator, 

19. Mishew D., op. cit., p. 231. 

20. From the Hungarian hajdu, "yeoman, free peasant." In the languages 
of the Balkan Slavs "a guerilla partisan against the Turks, avenging the 
oppression of the Christian population." In Bulgarian and Serbian folklore 
they are celebrated as heroes. 


1. Glagol— Old Bulgarian "word." 

2. Cf. the material in Vernadsky, George, Ancient Russia. New Haven, 
Yale University Press, 1943. Pp. 345-353. 

3. Murko, M. Geschichte der Altesten Suedslawischen Literaturen. Leipzig, 

4. Cf. Sharenkoff, V. N., A Study of Manichaeism in Bulgaria. New York, 
Columbia University Press, 1927. Obolensky, D., "The Bogomils," Eastern 
Church Quarterly, October-December, 1945. 

5. Jagi6, V., History of Serbo-Croatian Literature. Vienna, 1871. Pp. 82-90. 

6. Mishew, D., op. cit., p. 117. 

7. Florinsky, Michael T., Russia, Vol. I. New York, The Macmillan Co., 
1935. P. 165. 


1. Note the grammatical irregularities. Paisi often wavers between strict 
and popular usage, since he had no contemporary standards on which to 

2. Cf. Jacques Lacarriere, Mount Athos: Holy Mountain. P. Seghers, Paris, 


1. There was a lengthy correspondence between Koraes and Thomas 

2. Yury Venelin (1802-1839) was a Ukrainian scholar born in the Car- 
pathian region. He was the son of a priest and studied theology in Lviv. 
The Bulgarian colonists in Bessarabia aroused his interest in the Bulgarian 

In 1825, he went to Moscow, joined the Slavophiles and won their support 
for the freedom of Bulgaria. He published books on Bulgarian grammar, 
history and folksongs. His most popular work was Old and New Bulgarians 
(1827). He died before he had a chance to visit Bulgaria. 

3. Orthodox priests used the title of pope. At this period the rules of 
patronymics and family names in Bulgaria had few settled rules. 

4. In the Russian original, the bird is a swan. 

5. Hrytsko Kvitka-Osnovyanenko (1778-1843) was the father of the Ukrain- 
ian novel. He wrote sentimental and humorous tales on the life of the 
peasants and popular plays. His novel Marusia won popularity in France in 
an excellent translation and appeared in English with an introduction by 
John Buchan. 

Notes 189 

6. Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) was the national bard of Ukraine. He 
formed the modern Ukrainian nationalism by proclaiming as the ideal of 
Ukraine "the new and just law of George Washington." He was also a 
distinguished painter and etcher. 

7. Bishop Josef Strossmayer (1815-1905) was the founder of the Croatian 
Academy of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Zagreb. He was the political 
leader of the Croatians and an advocate of the unity of all Southern Slavs. 

8. Marko Vovchok (1834-1907), pen name of Maria Vilinska-Markovych. She 
lived in Paris and St. Petersburg and wrote in a beautiful Ukrainian 
language stories protesting against oppression, especially serfdom. 

9. Mykola Kostomariv (1817-1885) was a professor in the Universities of 
Kiev and St. Petersburg, a Ukrainian writer and historian, organizer of the 
Brotherhood of SS. Cyril and Methodius (1845) and the author of its ideology; 
cf. Sydoruk, John P., Ideology of the Cyrillo-Methodians and its Origins. 
Winnipeg-Chicago, 1954. Slavistika. No. 19. 


1. George Washburn (1833-1915) joined the newly established Robert 
College (1864) as Professor of Philosophy in 1868. He was Acting President, 
1870-1877 and President, 1877-1903. For his services, he received the thanks 
of the First Bulgarian Parliament and in 1884 was decorated by Prince 
Alexander with the Order of St. Alexander. 

2. Cf. Mishew, D., op. cit., pp. 318-319. 

3. Cf. Gladstone, W. E., The Bulgarian Horrors and the Eastern Question, 
Lessons from the Massacres and the Conduct of the Turkish Government 
towards Bulgaria. 


1. According to Cizevsky (Comparative Slavic Literature, p. 118), the nega- 
tive type of Bulgarian petty-bourgeois Bay Ganyu was created under the 
influence of the Russian humorist N. A. Lejkin. 


1. Drahomaniv in Switzerland bitterly opposed George Plekhanov (1857- 
1918), the father of Russian Marxist imperialism. In this connection he pub- 
lished articles praising the Irish struggle against British imperialism and 
offered them as a model for Ukrainian action. 

2. Lesya Ukrainka (1872-1913) was the most prominent Ukrainian poetess. 
Because of ill health, she travelled widely in the warmer climates, and her 
views, which had much to do with the formation of modern Ukrainian na- 
tionalism, are now being falsified by the Soviets. A number of her works in 
English translation by Percival Cundy were published in New York (Spirit 
of Flame, New York, Bookman Associates, 1950). 

3. Chetnik—a. member of an armed and trained body of men fighting 
for freedom. 


1. Bulgarian Poets, edited by D. Markov, Moscow, 1952, p. 14. 

2. Ibid., p. 19. 

Selected Bibliography 

Arnaudov, M. "Shevchenko a bolharska literatura" (Shevchenko 
and the Bulgarian Literature), T. Shevchenko, Tvory, Vol. 
XV, pp. 209-235, ed. by Roman Smal-Stocki. Warsaw-Lviv, 
1938 (Ukrainian). 

Badev, Iordan. "Bulgarian Literature," Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica, Vol. IV, p. 368, Edition, 1951. 

. Skitsi na zhivite (Sketches of the Living). Sofia, 1934 


Brisby, L. "Bulgarian Writers and their Mentors," Soviet Survey, 
No. 25, pp. 23-28. London, 1958. 

Bulgarski Pisateli—Jivot, Tvorchestvo, Ideit (Bulgarian Writ- 
ers, Life, Works, Ideas), ed. M. Arnaudov. Sofia, 1929 (Bul- 

"Bulgarian Writers Revolt," East Europe, Vol. VII, No. 3, pp. 

"Bulgarian Writers Revolt," Texts and Documents, ibid., Vol. 
VII, No. 5, pp. 50-56. 

Bulgarskiye Poety, ed. by D. Markov. Moscow, 1952 (Russian). 

Dsakalova-Dumas, Valerie. Conteurs bulgares d'aujourd'hui, 
recits, contes, nouvelles, choisis et adaptes, with a preface 
by Nicholai Dontchov. Sofia, 1937. 

Derjavin, Konst. Bolgarsky Teatr (Bulgarian Theatre). Mos- 
cow, Leningrad, 1950 (Russian). 

Dontchov, Nicolai. Esquisses d'un tableau de la nouvelle lit- 
terature bulgare, with a preface by Frank L. Schoell. Sofia, 

. Influences etrangeres dans la litterature bulgare, with 

a preface by Marcel Bion. Sofia, 1934. 

Galaboff, Konstantin. "Die neuere bulgarische Literatur." 
Deutsche Rundschau, No. 216, pp. 223-234. Berlin, 1928. 

Hateau, Georges. Panorama de la litterature bulgare contem- 
poraine. Paris 1937. 

Mandryka, M. I. Z bolharsko-ukrayinskykh literaturnykh vzaye- 
myn, Vplyv Shevchenka na bolharsku poeziyu (A Phase of 


Selected Bibliography 191 

Bulgarian-Ukrainian Literary Relations. Shevchenko's In- 
fluence on Bulgarian Poetry), Slavistika, No. 26. Winnipeg, 
1956 (Ukrainian). 

Manning, Clarence A. "Communism and Bulgarian Litera- 
ture," American-Bulgarian Review, Vol. V, No. 2, pp. 5-6. 
New York, 1954. 

. "Literature of Balkan Slavs," Handbook of Slavic Stud- 
ies, ed. by Leonid I. Strakhovsky. Cambridge, Mass., 1949. 

, "The Modern Scene in Bulgaria," Books Abroad, Vol. 

XIV, pp. 237-239. Norman, Okla., 1940. 

Markham, R. H. Meet Bulgaria. Sofia, 1931. 

Penev, Boyan. Istoriya na novata bulgarska literatura (History 
of the Modern Bulgarian Literature), 4 vol. Sofia, 1932 

. Bulgarska Literatura (Bulgarian Literature). Sofia, 1930 


Shishmanov, Dimitar. La Mouvement litter aire en Bulgarie. 
Sofia, 1925. 

. A Survey of Bulgarian Literature, tr. by Clarence A. 

Manning. Williamsport, Pa., 1932. 

Razvitiye na bolgarska literatura (Development of Bulgarian 
Literature), ed. Panteley Zarev and Ognyan Boyardjiyev, 3 
vols. Sofia, 1952 (Bulgarian). 

The Shade of the Balkans, ed. Henry Bernard. London. 1904. 

Vasilev, St. "Die bulgarische Literaturgeschichte und Litera- 
turkritik in den Jahren 1924-1929," Zeitschrift fur Slavische 
Philologie, Vol. VIII, pp. 443-463; Vol. IX, 165-195, 426-452. 
Berlin, 1932-1933. 


Aegean Sea, 11, 46 

Aesop, 65 

Akir the Wise, 34 

Aksakov, Ivan, 67-68 

Albania, 41, 130, 153 

Albanian language, 31 

Albigenses, 18 

Alexander the Great, 12, 34 

Alexander I, tsar of Russia, 54 

Alexander II, tsar of Russia, 68, 82, 

114, 151, 153 
Alexander, Prince, of Battenberg, 71, 

82, 84 
Alexander Nevsky, St., 150 
Alexandria, 34 
Alexis, tsar of Moscow, 27 
Altaic languages, 12, 13, 30 
American Bible Society, 57, 66, 81 
Anatolia, 34 
Andrew, St., 49 
Angelov, B., 134 
Apocrypha, 34, 35 
Aprilov, V., 55-57 
Arabia, 34 
Arabs, 12 
Archer, 134 
Aristotle, 34 
Armenians, 21 

Arsen Tsrnoyevich, patriarch, 26 
Asen, Bulgarian dynasty, 71 
Asperukh, Bulgar khan, 12 
Athanasius of Alexandria, 33 
Athens, 37, 59, 139 
Athos, Mount, 23, 24, 31, 45-48, 58 
Austria, 25 ff., 48 f., 60, 66, 95 
Avars, 14 
Avramov, R., 160 

Badev, I., 142 
Bagdad, 130 
Bagryana, E., 136 
Bakunin, M., 74, 75 
Balkan Mts., 13 
Balmont, K., 118 
Baltic Sea, 13 

Balzac, H., 125 

Bansko, 57 

Baronius, Caesar, 48 

Basil the Macedonian, emperor, 17 

Baudelaire, C, 127 

Beethoven, L. von, 110 

Belcheva, M., 137 

Belev, Kh., 150 

Belgium, 83 

Belgrade, 26, 52, 60, 62-71 

Belo-Ruthenians, 12, 41 

Belorussians, 31 

Berlin, 119, 130 

Berne, 104, 119 

Beron, P., 55 f. 

Bessarabia, 59, 82 

Black Bulgary, 12 

Black Sea, 11-14, 27, 53 

Blagoyev, D., 145 ff. 

Bogomils, 18 f., 35-38, 135, 137, 149 

Bogorov, I., 61 f. 

Bohemia, 15 

Bolgrad, 59 f. 

Boris, khan and tsar, 14-19, 32 

Boris II, tsar of Bulgaria, 131-132, 
146 ff., 154 

Boris, St., of Ruce, 18 

Borotbisty, 155 

Borovan, 76 

Bosnia, 20, 35, 83 

Botev, Kh., 41, 69-80, 83-87, 94, 117, 
154, 163 

Bradati, Joseph, 51 

Braila, 62, 70-75, 84 

Brashov, 55 f . 

British Bible Society, 57, 60 

Brotherhood of Sts. Cyril and Me- 
thodius, 69 

Bucharest, 54-84, passim 

Budapest, 48, 68 

Buddha, 34 

Bulgaria, state and people, 1 ff .; 
horde, 12 ff.; first empire, 16 ff., 
31 ff., 143; second empire, 19 ff., 
37 ff.; under Turkish rule, 21 ff., 




42 ff.; principality, 82 ff.; independ- 
ent, 83 ff.; Communist, 152 ff. 

Bulgarian Eagle, 61 

Bulgarian Church, 14 ff. 

Bulgarian Exarchate, 72 ff. 

Bulgarian Morning Star, 62 

Bulgarian National Theatre, 123, 128, 
135, 141 f., 155 ff. 

Bulgarska, Zora, 70 

Byron, G. G., 53, 74, 88, 124 

Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, 
11 ff., 35 ff., 141 ff., passim 

Camus, A., 161 

Carpathian Mts., 41 

Caspian Sea, 14 

Cathari, 18 

Caucasus, 13, 30 

Chalcidice, 46 

Chalki, 24, 57 

Charles XII, king of Sweden, 27 

Chataldja, 130 

Chernyshevsky, N., 67 f., 74, 101 

Chervenkov, V., 157-9 

Chicago, 98 f. 

Chilingirov, S., 142 

Chiprovets, 26, 51 

Chirpan, 115 

Chrysostom, St., 32 f. 

Church Slavic Language, 15, 18, 32, 

Chuvash language, 12 
Clement of Rome, St., 15, 32, 42 
Clement of Okhrida, St., 32 
Commentaries on Gospel, etc., 33 
Communists, 86, 95, 117, 131 ff. 
Constance, 37 

Constantine the Great, emperor, 21 
Constantine the Philosopher, (Cf. 

St. Cyril), 15, 31 
Constantine XI Paleologue, 21 
Constantinople, 11-131, passim. 
Constantinople News, 61 
Cossacks, 31 

Court of Law for the people, 33 
Crete, 62 
Crimea, 27 
Croatia, 31, 41 
Crusaders, 19, 46 

Cumans, 19 

Cyril, St., (Cf. Constantine the Philos- 
opher), 15 ff., 31 ff., 56 
Cyrillic script, 30, 35 
Czechoslovakia, 122 

Dalmatia, 31 

Damascene the Studite, 38 

Dante, 35, 97 

Danube River, 11 ff., 19 ff., 54, 70, 

74 ff. 
Danubian Principalities, 27, 53 
Dardanelles, 13 
Debelyanov, D., 132 f. 
Delchev, 115, 117 
Delo, 115 f. 
Digenis, 34 
Dimitrov, G., 150 ff. 
Djordjevich, P., 26 
Dnieper River, 13, 17 
Dobrolyubov, N., 67, 74 
Dobrudja, 11, 82, 120, 136, 138, 152 ff. 
Dobrych, 136 
Dostoyevsky, F., 35 
Doyran, 100 

Drahomaniv, M., 114, 139, 164 
Drumev, V. (Klement Branitski), 71, 

Dudintsev, 158 

Eastern Rumelia, 82 ff. 

Egypt, 34 

Elena, 100, 119 

Elin Pelin (D. Ivanov), 125 ff. 

Engels, F., 119 

England, 18 

Epiphanius of Cyprus, 33 

Evthymi (Euthymius), patriarch, 37 

Ferdinand, emperor of Austria, 26 
Ferdinand, tsar of Bulgaria, 83, 98, 

131, 146, 156 
Filotey, 43 
Filov, B., 153 
Flame (Plamuk), 157 ff. 
Flaubert, G., 125 
Florence, 96 
Fotinov, K., 60 f. 

France, 13, 18, 20, 62, 100, 119, 130 
Franciscans, 35 


Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Franko, I., 119 
Franks, 13 

Gabe, D., 136 

Gabrovo, 55 f f ., 97 

Galabov, K., 134 

Galakhov, 65 

Galatz, 70, 84 

Ganev, D., 160 

Garibaldi, 74 

Gaul, 13 

Geneva, 114, 116, 139 

Genov, T., 158 ff. 

Georgiev, M., 105 

Georgius Monachus, 33 

Georgius Synkellus, 33 

Germany, 18, 35, 60 ff., 95, 122 ff., 

Gerov, N., 63 ff., 84 
Gibraltar, 131 
Gladstone, W., 81 
Glagolitic script, 30 
Gochev, G., 159 
Goethe, J. W., 65, 108 
Gogol (Hohol), N., 56, 67, 78, 101 
Golden Horn, 21 
Gorky, M., 155 
Great Britain, 83 f., 130 f. 
Greece and Greeks (Cf. Byzantine 

Empire), 15-72, 129, 131, 153 
Gregory, Nazianzen, 33 
Grenoble, 136 
Grigory Tsamblak, 37 
Grozev, I., 135 
Gulyashki, A., 155 ff. 
Gyurgevo, 74 f . 

Hadji Dimitar, 77 
Hadji Khristo, 53 
Hadji Stephcho, 53 
Hadrian II, Pope, 15 
Haemus, Mt., 13 
Halych-Volynia, 19 
Hamartolos, 33 
Hauptmann, G., 119, 121 
Hayda, 66 

hayduks, 26, 40 f., 76 
Hebrew, 16, 32 ff. 
Heine, H., 108 ff., 116, 124 
Hemingway, E., 161 

Hercegovina, 83 

Herzen, A., 67 f. 

Hesychasm, 37, 46 

Hexaemeron, 34 

Historical Library, 143 

Hitler, A., 153 

Hlib (Gleb), St., 18 

Holy Roman Empire, 20 

Homer, 13 

Hromada, 114 

Hugo, V., 96 

Hungary, 14, 25 ff., 52, 157, 160 

Hunnic language, 13 f. 

Hunyadi, Janos, 25, 40 

Hyperion, 134 ff., 149 

Ibsen, H., 119, 128 

Ignatyev, N., Count, 81 

Illyrians, 12 

Innocent III, Pope, 46 

Ioakhim, 19 

loan Exarch, 32 ff. 

loan Rilski, St., 37, 45 

Iovkov, I., 138 

Iranians, 13, 18 

Islam (Cf. Mohammedans, Turks), 

20 ff. 
Italy and Italians, 43, 89, 108 
Ivan III, tsar of Moscow, 21, 27 
Ivan Asen, Bulgarian emperor, 19 
Izbornik of Svyatoslav, 34 

Jagic, V. von, 41 

Jan Sobieski, king of Poland, 26 

Janissaries, 23 f. 

Jena, 114 

Jeravna, 138 

Jeremiah, Priest, 36 

John of Damascus, St., 33 

Juan of Austria, Don, 26 

Kalchev, K., 159 
Kalfov, D., 142 
Kalofer, 73 f. 

Kaloyan (Kaloiannes) Asen, Bulgar- 
ian emperor, 19 
Kameneva, A., 142 
Karageorge, 52 



Karakozov, 68 

Karaliychev, A., 143 

Karavelov, L., 67 ff., 84, 94, 123, 163 

Karavelova, L., 116 

Kareya, 48 

Karima, A., 129 

Karlovtsi, 26, 47 f . 

Katayev, 152 

Kazanluk, 104, 112 

Kharkiv, 60 

Rhazars, 31 

Kherson, 31 

Khilandar Monastery, 46 ff., 58 

Khmelnytsky, B., 26 

Khrabar, Monk, 32 

Khristov, K., 121 f. 

Khrushchev, N., 157 ff. 

Kiev, 14, 17, 27, 41 ff., 60 f., 71, 114 

Kirikov, I., 128 

Kiril, Prince, 153 

Kladovo, 75 

Klopstock, F. G., 35 

Kobylyanska, O., 119 

Komnenos, 135 

Konstantin, Bishop, 32 

Konstantin, Presbyter, 33 

Konstantinov, A., 97 ff., 108, 146 

Konstantinov, K., 141 

Koprivshtitsa, 63 ff., 80, 133 

Korniychuk, A., 152 

Kosovo, 19, 25, 37 ff. 

Kossuth, L., 70 

Kostenetsky, K., 37 

Kostomariv, M., 69, 78 

Rostov, S. L., 141 f. 

Kosma, Priest, 36 ff. 

Kotel, 48, 53, 55, 58, 62, 74 

Kozaks, 26 

Kozloduy, 76 

Kracholov, T., 115 

Kraguyevats, 57 

Kraikof, Y., 51 

Kremlin, 87, 162 

Kristev, K., 107 ff., 113 ff. 

Kritika, 113 

Krum, Bulgarian khan, 14, 30 

Krylov, I., 64 f. 

Krizhanich, J., 43 

Kuchuk-Kainardji, 27 

Kunev, T., 155 

Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, H., 64, 78, 101 

f., 163 
Kyulyakov, K., 155 

Lago di Como, 108 

Latin, 16 ff., 32 ff. 

Lavra Monastery, 46 

Lavrenti, 46 

Lazar, Knez (Prince), 19, 37 

Legend about the Babylonian Em- 
pire, 43 

Leipzig, 61, 108 ff. 

Lenin, N., 146 

Lepanto, 26 

Lermontov, M., 65, 74, 78, 98, 110, 
117, 124, 132 

Lesya Ukrainka, 115, 120 f. 

Levski, V., 69, 77, 87, 126 

Liliyev, N., 135 f. 

Literaturnaya Entsiklopediya, 86 

Literary Front, 157 ff. 

London Daily News, 81 

Long, A., 66, 81 

Louis the German, King, 14 

Louis of Hungary, King, 25 

Lovchen, 52 

Lviv, 119, 148 

Lyubosloviye, 60 

Macedonia, 12, 31 f., 59, 66, 85, 100, 

115 ff., 130, 146 
Macedonia, 66 
Madara, 30 
Malalas, 33 f. 
Manicheanism, 18 
Manov, E., 158 ff. 
Maritsa River, 19, 39 
Marko, King, 39 f., 65, 149 
Marko Bodjar, 53 
Marmora, Sea of, 24, 57 
Mars, E., 128 
Marseilles, 62 
Marx, K., 119 
Marxism, 107, 154 ff. 
Massilianism, 18 
Mazepa, I. Hetman, 27 
McGahan, G., 81 
Menea, 33 

Merezhkovsky, D., 118 
Methodius, St., 15 ff., 30 ff., 56 


Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Methodius of Patara, 33 
Michael III, emperor, 14 f. 
Michael Asen, Bulgarian emperor, 19 
Michael Obrenovich, prince of Serbia, 

Mickiewicz, A., Ill 
Mikhaylovski, S., 100 f . 
Mikolayiv, 97 
Milton, J., 35 
Miladinov brothers, D. and K., 66 f ., 

Miletich, S., 68 
Milev, G., 148 
Milosh Obrenovich, prince of Serbia, 

52, 57 
Mina of Kostur, 39 
Minkov, S., 150 
Misl (Thought), 109 
Missolonghi, 53 
Moesia, 12 
Mohacs, 25 
Mohammedans (Cf. Islam, Turks), 

27 ff . 
Moldavia, 37, 41, 53, 70 
Moliere, 98 
Molotov, V., 150 
Momchil, 149 
Mongols, 43 
Montenegro, 52, 130 ff. 
Moravia, 15, 30 f., 42 
Moscow, 27, 37, 43, 55, 67, 84 ff., 101, 

154 ff. 
Munich, 135 

Muscovy, 21, 27, 41, 43, 49 
Murad II, Ottoman sultan, 46 
Mutafov, Ch., 134 

Nadson, S., 117 
Nancy, 118 
Narodniki, 68 f., 102 
Naum, St., 15 
Navarino, 53 
Nazis, 155 
Nechayev, S., 75 
Nekrasov, N., 126 
Nemanya, Stepan, 47 
Nemirov, D., 140, 143 
Nenadovich, P., 47 
Neofit Bozveli, 58 f . 
Neofit Rilski, 57, 64 

Neuilly, 146 

New York Herald, 81 

Nezavisimost, 69 

Neznakomov, P., 159 

Nicephorus, emperor, 14, 17 

Nicholas, king of Montenegro, 132 

Nietzsche, F., 108, 111, 120 

Nikopol, 26 

Nizhyn, 56, 60, 163 

Nomocanon, 32 ff. 

Novi Sad, 26, 62, 68 

Odesa, 27 f., 56, 60-84, 97, 163 
Odrin, 55, 66, 96 f., 130 
Okhrida, 13-18, 30 ff., 41 
Orbini, Mauro, 47 

Ottoman Empire (Cf. Turkey), 20, 
22, 27, 43, 52, 56 

Paisi Khilandarski, Father, 44-59, 61, 

64, 87, 144, 163 
Paleia, 33 
Pan-Slavism, 43 
Pantaleymon, St., 46 
Parchevich, P., 26 
Paris, 55, 98, 108, 116, 135 
Paterik, 32 
Paul, St., 46 
Paulicianism, 18, 51 
Pazvantoglou, 24 
Peloponnesus, 12 
Penev, B., 134 
Penev, K., 159 
Pereyaslavets, 17 
Persia, 34 
Persian Gulf, 130 
Peter I, tsar of Russia, 27 
Peter Asen, Bulgarian emperor, 19 
Petkanov, K., 143 
Phanar, 21 ff., 58 
Philip of Macedon, 12 
Philippi, 46 
Photius, patriarch, 14 
Phryne, 109 
Physiologus, 34 
Pilate, 42 
Pirdop, 101 f. 
Pirot, 112 

Pisarev, D., 67, 74, 101 
Plato, 33 f. 



Pliska-Aboda, 12 ff. 

Plovdiv, 19, 59 ff., 82 ff., 92, 96, 108, 

115, 133 
Poe, E. A., 126 ff. 
Poland, 15, 20, 26, 41, 157, 160 
Poltava, 27 
Polyanov, D., 147-8 
Polyanov, V., 143 
Prague, 98, 119 
Pravda, 86 
Preslav, 14 ff., 30 
Prilep, 39 
Prometheus, 110 
Pushkin, A., 65, 74, 78, 88, 98, 124, 


Radevski, Kh., 158 ff. 

Racho Kazandjiyata, 64 

Ragusa, 47 

Rakitin, I., 142 

Rakovski, G. S., 48, 62 ff., 71, 87, 94, 

Rastsvetnikov, A., 155 
Raychev, G., 137 
Raynov, N., 137 
Rilke, R. M., 35 
Rilo Monastery, 37, 57 f. 
Robert College, 81 
Romania, 11 f., 31 f., 53-84, 130, 138, 

144, 152 
Rome, 14 ff., 32, 42, 96 
Rossikon Monastery, 46 
Rostislav, prince of Moravia, 14 ff. 
Ruce (Cf. Ukraine), 15 ff., 34, 41, 43, 

Rumyantsev, N., 148 
Ruse, 69-74, 84, 119, 140 
Russia, 27 ff., 60-98, 101, 131, 155 f., 


Salonika, 15, 31, 60, 96, 131 
Samokov, 45, 48, 57 
Samuel, Bulgarian tsar, 17 
Saint Petersburg, 49, 54, 84 
San Stefano, 82 
Sandomierz, 15 
Sava, St., 47 
Saylovo, 125 
Sazava Monastery, 15 
Schopenhauer, A., 108 

Schuyler, E., 81 

September, 157 

Serbia, state and people, 19 ff., 37 ff., 

49, 59, 68, 76, 81, 130 ff., 131 
Shevchenko, T., 65 ff., 77 ff., 101, 163 
Shipka, 82, 87, 111 
Shishmanov, D., 139 f. 
Shishmanov, I., 114-116, 120, 128, 139 
Sholokhov, 155 
Shumen, 70 f., 103 
Shushulova, P., 74 
Shvarkin, 152 
Siberia, 43 

Simeon, Bulgarian tsar, 16, 32 f., 42 
Simeon II, Bulgarian tsar, 153 
Skobelev, General, 108 
Slaveykov, Pencho, 107-120, 129 
Slaveykov, P. R., 64-66, 84 f., 107, 163 
Slavic Rite, 15 ff., 32 ff. 
Sliven, 74, 136, 141 
Slavania (Slavonia), 12 
Slovaks, 41 
Smirnensky, Kh., 148 
Smyrna, 60 

Society of United Slavs, 69 
Sofia, 19, 26, 51, 84, 97, 100 ff., passim 
Sofroni Vrachanski (Vladislavov, S.), 

48, 53 ff. 
Sophia Paleologue (Zoe), 21 
Sopot, 83 f. 
Spain* 150 
Stalin, J., 153 ff. 
Stamatov, G., 123 ff. 
Stamboliyski, A., 104, 131-132, 146 ff., 

Stambolov, S., 71, 78, 96 f. 
Stara Planina, 73 

Stara Zagora, 66, 82, 108, 121, 135, 137 
Stefan Dushan, Serb emperor, 19, 49 
Story of Solomon and Kitovras, 34 
Stefanit and Ikhnilat, 34 
Stoyanov, L., 134, 148-160 
Stoyanov, R., 142 

Strashimirov, A., 103 ff., 108, 137 
Strelkov, L., 155 ff. 
Strindberg, J. A., 119 
Strossmayer, J., Bishop, 66 
Strubel, I., 143 
Svoboda, 69 
Struga, 66 


Modern Bulgarian Literature 

Suez, 131 
Svilengrad, 84 
Svishtov, 58, 97, 100, 135 
Svyatoslav of Kiev, 17, 34 
Sweden, 27, 114 
Switzerland, 104, 114, 119 

Takev, M., 98 

Tatar-Pazardjik, 96, 103, 136 

Tatars, 14 

Theophilus, emperor, 33 

Thessaly, 62 

Third Rome, 27, 43 

Thought (Cf. Mist), 112ff. 

Thrace, 11, 143 

Tiraspol, 123 

Tirnovo, 19 ff., 37, 43, 55-87, 100, 119, 

137, 165 
Tito, 162 
Tobit, 34 

Todorov, P., 119-121, 129, 133, 143 
Tolstoy, L., 101, 111 
Toromanski, K., 159 
Totyu, F., 75 
Toulouse, 119 
Transylvania, 40, 55 
Trayanov, T., 136, 148 
Trevna, 65, 107 
Troy, 34 
Tsankov, A., 132 
Turkey (Cf. Mohammedans, Ottoman 

Empire, Islam) 11-69, 129, 146 

Ukraine, 12-56, passim, 67, 77, 102, 

114, 123 
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 

150 ff. 
United States of America, 98, 131, 153 
Ural Mts., 14 

Varlaam and Josaphat, 34 

Vardalachos, P., 55 

Varna, 25, 103, 135 f. 

Vasilev, O., 155 

Vasilev, V., 134 

Vatican, 47 

Vatropedi Monastery, 47 

Vazov, I., 80, 83-113, passim, 123, 125, 

128, 135, 141, 154, 164 
Velichkov, K., 84, 96 ff. 

Velichkov, M., 159 

Venelin, Y., 56, 101 

Venice, 51 

Vidin, 20, 24, 54, 114 

Vienna, 25 ff., 56, 60, 108-116, 135, 141 

Village Conversation, 126 

Vikings, 17 

Vlachs, 19 

Vlaykov, T. G., 101 ff. 

Vola, 76 

Volga River, 12, 17, 31 

Volodymyr, Grand Prince of Kiev, 

17 f., 43 
Voltaire, 89 
Vovchak, Marko, 67 f . 
Voynikov, D., 70 f. 
Vratsa, 53 ff., 76 
Vukashin, King, 19, 39 
Vyshensky, I., 46 

Wallachia, 41, 53 

Washburn, G., 81 

Wladyslaw, king of Poland, 25 

Word of the Bulgarian Emigres, 75 

Yanko of Sibiu, 40 

Yantra River, 58 

Yasenkov, Kh., 148 

Yavorov, P., 115-119, 121, 126, 129 

133, 134 
Yoasaf, 37 
Yovanovich, A., 55 
Yovanovich, Zmay, 68 
Yugoslavia, 11, 153 

Zagorchinov, S., 149 f. 

Zagreb, 66 

Zastava, 68 

Zelich, G., 48 

Zhdanov, A., 154, 160 

Zhivkov, T., 160 

Zidarov, K., 156, 160 

Zlatorog, 134 ff. 

Zlatostruy, 33 

Zname, 75 

Znaniye, 69 

Zoe Paleologue, 21 

Zographu Monastery, 46 ff. 

Zola, E., 125 



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